What Families Can Do If a Loved One Is Being Taken Advantage Of: Avoiding Elder Financial Abuse

Caring for an elderly parent, relative, or other loved one can be a difficult task. Busy schedules will not always permit you to commit the time you would like to assisting your loved one. Often times, families choose to take on the assistance of a caretaker who can help when you are unable to. This person may be a friend, neighbor, or other acquaintance, but in any case, caution must be taken in this situation to avoid exploitation of your loved one. It does not always matter if the caretaker is someone you know and trust because they are just as capable of taking advantage of someone as a con artist or criminal. The likelihood of this happening increases as people grow older and their vulnerabilities are enhanced by cognitive decline, serious health problems, or the loss of a long time spouse and the grieving process that accompanies it. Often times, the caretaker will pose as a girlfriend or boyfriend or even convince a person to marry them. They can be tricked into granting a financial power of attorney, making the caretaker their primary beneficiary on their life insurance, giving them access to bank or retirement accounts, etc. In any case, this will be achieved through coercive measures that manipulate and undermine your loved one and their abilities to make decisions for themselves.

At this point, you may be asking what can I do if this happens to someone in my family? All situations are different, but in general, a guardianship may be the answer you are looking for. A guardianship is a more expansive measure than power of attorney and can protect against someone abusing their power of attorney. They are necessary for individuals who are rendered unable to care for their own basic needs, from finances to medical issues and everything else in between. The probate court in each county, acting in the best interest of the minor or incompetent, decides if a guardianship is required and if so, who should be appointed guardian. This guardian cannot have any conflict of interest with the ward, monetary or otherwise, and after appointing someone, the court will monitor the appointed guardian to ensure proper execution of their duties. All in all, they must be acting in the best interests of the ward. This is a sound method for you to ensure that your loved one is safe from coercion and other manipulative tactics that typically result in an emotionally manipulated family member and the loss of money or other assets.

To avoid a situation like this, the best thing you can do is be precautionary, stay educated, and act promptly. If you do not know the ins and outs of guardianships or need legal advice because you feel an elderly family member has been tricked into signing away money, accounts, etc. to someone who took advantage of him or her, the best decision you can make is to consult an attorney. Mr. Matthews has extensive experience with elder fraud cases and can determine the best course of action for your specific situation. We have offices conveniently located in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. Should you encounter a situation similar to that described above, please contact us to make an appointment. We understand the stress and struggle that these circumstances can inspire and we are committed to helping you sort it out in order to protect the well-being of your family member.


Craig Matthews has been advocating for victims of elder fraud for more than thirty years.  He has successfully recovered more than a million dollars on their behalf