According to the federal Administration on Aging, 2013 is the “Year of Elder Abuse Prevention” to help people understand and stop the mistreatment of the elderly. It’s an important issue because older Americans are vulnerable to many different kinds of abuse.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute reports that senior citizens are defrauded of an estimated $2.9 billion each year. Furthermore, as baby boomers get older, that amount is anticipated to increase.

Financial Exploitation

Financial abuse of the aged population can occur in many different ways, including through misuse of the power of attorney. This is because power of attorney grants designated individuals broad access to key documents and other economic matters of the elderly. When an older person is physically or mentally impaired, power of attorney rights are more likely to be abused by the holder.

Randy Thomas, former South Carolina police officer and now a national lecturer on elder abuse, agrees. “They have great value and opportunity to misuse,” he tells MarketWatch.

Although not many statistics are available, it’s often difficult to prevent such abuse. Part of the reason is that family members, friends and even neighbors are often entrusted to carry out this role. A MetLife study reveals that 34 percent of elderly financial mistreatment is done by people who are the closest to the victim.

How to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones

Although there are no guarantees to keep you or a loved one completely insulated against power of attorney abuse, there are still things you can do to be more protected. The best step is to name a person whom you or your family member fully trusts. After making this choice, review it every few years to make sure this individual remains worthy of power of attorney duties.

If you become aware of someone abusing power of attorney privileges that affect your relative, there are actions you can take. The power of attorney can be revoked in South Carolina. You may also request the local courts to get involved, if necessary.

Need Legal Help?

Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm understand how terrible it is to learn that someone has taken unfair advantage of your relative. This is why we’re always ready to fight for elderly victims of negligence or abuse in South Carolina. Please contact us for a free consultation at (888) 324-3100 or fill out our convenient online form today.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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