Financial Elder Abuse

Our San Jose, California attorneys at Gates Eisenhart Dawson help elders who are victims of financial abuse. Based in Silicon Valley, our financial elder abuse practice extends throughout California and to other jurisdictions in select matters.

The abuse of elders is a national problem in the United States. As a result, the California Legislature enacted the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act to protect elders by providing private enforcement of laws against elder abuse and neglect. An elder is defined in the statute as “any person residing in this state, 65 years of age or older.” The proscribed conduct includes financial abuse. The financial abuse provisions are, in part, based on the Legislature's belief that, in addition to being subject to the general rules of contract, financial agreements entered into by elders should be subject to special scrutiny.

The Act broadly defines financial abuse as occurring “when a person or entity ... [t]akes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder ... for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both” or “by undue influence.” In addition, a person or entity that assists in the foregoing conduct is also liable for elder abuse. A taking is for a “wrongful use” occurs when a party “knew or should have known that [its] conduct is likely to be harmful to the elder ... adult.”

Financial elder abuse can take many forms, although each scheme will likely include fraud and/or undue influence. Some common examples of elder abuse include:

  • a family member taking money without permission or overreaching to secure money or property either in the present or in a testamentary instrument (will)
  • a caregiver committing theft
  • a banker or teller using knowledge of an elder’s finances to take advantage of the elder
  • a mortgage broker influencing an elder to borrow on his or her home to make a purchase
  • an insurance and annuity salesperson convincing an elderly person to purchase unneeded financial products

Elder abuse is different from the standard personal injury case. Because of that fact, it is important for a victim of financial elder abuse to retain an attorney with the extensive knowledge and experience in litigating these issues. At GED, our attorneys meet this threshold. We take pride in our vigorous advocacy on behalf of victims of elder abuse.

For more information about our elder financial abuse practice, we welcome you to contact GED.