5 ways to identify elder financial abuse for a will contest

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Estate Litigation

Elder financial abuse is a distressing reality that can occur in various forms. They include manipulation, coercion or exploitation of older adults for financial gain.

When it comes to contesting a will in Florida, recognizing signs of elder financial abuse is necessary for fairness and justice.

Suspicious changes in the will

One red flag is sudden and unexplained alterations to the will document. These changes might include amendments favoring new beneficiaries or significant modifications to asset distribution that contradict previous intentions.

Isolation and control

Elderly individuals who experience financial abuse may exhibit signs of isolation or undue control by another party. This could involve restricting access to financial information, documents or decision-making processes. These tactics effectively limit the older adult’s autonomy and ability to make independent choices regarding their estate.

Unusual financial transactions

Irregular financial transactions and transfers of assets that seem out of character are other red flags. Examples may include large withdrawals from bank accounts, sudden changes in property ownership and unexplained loans or gifts to unfamiliar individuals.

Lack of understanding or capacity

Elder financial abuse can take advantage of an older adult’s diminished mental capacity, cognitive decline or dementia. There may be signs of confusion, forgetfulness or inability to comprehend the implications of decisions regarding the will.

Pressure or coercion

Undue influence or coercion may show themselves through pressure tactics, manipulation or threats aimed at persuading the elder to make changes to their will against their wishes. Look for signs of intimidation or coercion by individuals seeking to benefit from the altered will.

Proof of abuse

Proving or documenting instances of elder financial abuse after the victim has passed away can be challenging but not impossible. For example, witness testimonies can help. Identify individuals who witnessed suspicious behavior or interactions involving the elder and the suspected abuser.

With concerns about the elder’s mental capacity or cognitive decline, obtain their medical records. They may help establish any diagnoses or evidence of diminished capacity that may have made the elder vulnerable to manipulation. Meanwhile, a forensic accountant can examine financial records for any irregularities or discrepancies that could indicate financial exploitation.

By recognizing the signs above and gathering evidence, individuals can help prevent and address instances of elder financial abuse.