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What Is Elder Financial Abuse?

For an excellent report on annuities and older adults click here.

For complaints about insurance agents, brokers, or attorneys who are involved with the sale of annuities visit the California Department of Insurance.

The civil law defines elder financial abuse as a form of elder abuse when a person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates or retains (or assists in the process) real or personal property of an elder to a wrongful use or with the intent to defraud, or both. (Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 15610.30)

Elder financial abuse can also be a criminal offense if "theft or embezzlement" (Penal Code Sections 368(d)(e), & 484- 487), "forgery" (Penal Code 470), or filing "forged documents" (Penal Code 115) are involved.

What are other types of financial abuse?

Beware of "living trust mills" and annuity salespersons! Thousands of senior citizens and other members of the public have been solicited by salespeople calling themselves "Senior Advisors" or Medi-Cal Specialists" and have been invited to attend free seminars. These seminars conducted by so-called experts promote the purchase of various estate planning services, including legal and tax counseling, the review of legal documents, and the preparation of new wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents including annuities.

Seniors are often sold trusts that they do not need or scared into buying annuities as a way of protecting their home and other assets from a future estate claims by Medi-Cal. Such investments are often sold by inadequately trained personnel and are sold without proper disclosure or without regard to the suitability of the investment. Senior citizens have suffered financial losses and have had their applications for long-term care Medi-Cal adversely affected by purchasing products from "trust mills."

Another type of financial abuse defrauds the Medicare or Medi-Cal system. Some health care organizations, durable medical equipment providers and health care professionals commit this type of fraud against the Medicare or Medi-Cal programs by over-charging for services or by billing for services, drugs or supplies that were unnecessary or not performed at all. It also involves receiving kickbacks for referrals. It is estimated that Medi-Cal fraud accounts for 3 to 10 % of the overall Medi-Cal budget.

For more details on recognizing elder financial abuse, see How to Recognize Signs of Elder Financial Abuse.

Page Last Modified: August 19, 2008