Financial elder abuse a growing concern

According to research commissioned by State Trustees - revealed today on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – financial elder abuse is a significant issue, and we are ill-prepared to cope.


According to the findings, a staggering one in five Victorians (21%) report they’ve experienced someone taking advantage of a vulnerable family member or friend to benefit from their will, or personal items being wrongfully taken by others after they have passed away.


Financial elder abuse occurs when someone takes advantage of a personal relationship with an elderly person to exploit them for financial or personal gain. In cases where elder abuse was suspected, financial abuse was the most common form (68%), followed by emotional (45%) and physical abuse (16%).


It’s no wonder then that eighty-five per cent of Victorians agreed it was too easy for unscrupulous people to take advantage of older family members or friends for financial gain. Only 15 per cent of Victorians strongly agree there are adequate laws and safeguards in place to prevent financial elder abuse.


State Trustees’ CEO Craig Dent said financial elder abuse, and the family fall-out that can result from disputes over estates, can be mitigated if people have their affairs in order, with an up-to-date will, power of attorney and appointed executor.


“It’s concerning that half (49%) of Victorians have never made a will, with one in five of this group not knowing how to go about preparing one.


“Of those without a will and who have dependent children, 85 per cent have not appointed a legal guardian in the event of death of both parents, which is a real problem.


“Almost one third (29%) of Victorians believe they are too young to write a will, but 41 per cent of these people are aged over 30, meaning many probably have children or own valuable assets,” he added.


The findings show of the other half (49%) of adult Victorians who do have a will, three in five (60%) admit it is not completely up to date. This is despite the fact they may have made a major investment such as buying a house, and family homes are often our most valuable asset.


In addition, only 40 per cent of those with dependent children have appointed a legal guardian for their children in the event both parents pass away, and yet 30 per cent have made arrangements for someone to care for their pets when they pass away.


State Trustees, which is responsible for the protection of some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people, has increased its focus on the prevention of financial elder abuse in recent years.


Today State Trustees announced its public foundation, State Trustees Australia Foundation, will make a contribution of $150,000 in grant funding for elder abuse prevention and response projects.


State Trustees’ CEO Craig Dent said elder abuse is a terrible crime, and one that is an increasing issue as our population ages.


For a fee of $30.00, the Victorian State Trustees will sell an online will kit for those with simple circumstances, and has a consultative will service for those with more complex situations.


State Trustees in your state offers power of attorney assistance and executor services.


15 June 2016.