Unfortunately, financial exploitation of elderly individuals is more common than one would hope. As people get older, they may become more forgetful or require more assistance, making them more vulnerable to various forms of abuse. Although ideally every elderly person would have a trusted helper with only benevolent intent, this is not always the case.
Financial exploitation occurs when a person is trusted to control your financial assets and knowingly misuses those assets through deception, coercion, fraud, or other wrongdoing. To qualify as financial exploitation of the elderly, the following must be true:
- A vulnerable elder is being exploited by someone who is in a position of trust or confidence- This could be a caretaker, family member, someone the elderly individual pays to manage their assets, or any other person that is put in a position of trust.
- Individual who is exploited is a vulnerable elder- In Iowa, a vulnerable elder is an individual who is 60 years or older and unable to protect themselves because of age, mental, or physical condition.
- Exploiter used undue influence, deception, coercion, fraud, or extortion- the exploiter must have taken the assets or used them inappropriately.
- Exploiter took either benefits, property, resources, belongings, or assets.
If someone believes that a vulnerable elder is being financially exploited, it is beneficial to get an attorney who can determine whether the elderly individual has a claim against the exploiter. Family members, caretakers, and other trusted third parties may be held accountable for exploitation through a lawsuit. Under Iowa law, a vulnerable elder may petition the court to stop the abuse and require the exploiter to return all assets. Other relief that a court may grant includes a protective order for personal safety, safe housing, and other precautions to avoid future exploitation.
If you believe an elderly loved one is being financially exploited, a skilled attorney can help. Contact the attorneys at Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fisher & Bouslog, P.C. at (515) 288-5000 to discuss your issue with our firm.
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