Americans aged 65 years and older control 70 percent of the nation's wealth, which makes them tempting fraud and abuse targets. Illinois citizens age 60 - 85 and older are the fastest growing Illinois age demographic. Since 2000, Illinois’ older population has grown from 1.9 million to 2.5 million, and now represents 19.6% of the population in Illinois. By 2030, the age 60+ population is estimated to increase to 3.6 million and will represent 24% of Illinois’ population.
Elder abuse has long been an ever growing problem in the United States, where there is no ingrained tradition or expectation that elders are cared for directly by their families, in their families’ homes. This problem grows exponentially as the American elder population grows exponentially. And, even when families do care directly for their elders, there can be substantial legal problems which can be avoided with planning.
The elder demographic shares characteristics that invite abuse and make them dependent upon caregivers (family or employees) who can be in a position to cause abuse or fraud, e.g., impaired hearing and vision, slowed motor and mental responses, decreased coordination, and other physical, mental, and emotional impairments.
Examples of financial abusers can range from a child who uses their power of attorney over a parent’s bank account to withdraw a substantial amount of the parent’s savings; a nephew or niece who pressures an elderly Uncle or Aunt to make them a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, or a grandchild who tricks an elderly grandparent to execute a power of attorney and the grandchild then makes valuable monthly gifts of large sums of money, or a child refuses to care properly for an aging parent specifically to preserve assets that she or he will inherit.
The Illinois Nursing Home Act defines financial exploitation as “the use of an eligible adult’s resources by another to the disadvantage of that adult or the profit or advantage of a person other than that adult.” A caregiver or nursing home can be guilty of financial exploitation of one or more elderly individuals through lies, false promises, threats, and other means to obtain an elderly person’s money, real estate, and personal property.
Simply, financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older person's funds, property, or assets, such as theft (burglary or robbery), fraud, intentional misuse of assets by a fiduciary or caregiver, or even the negligent use of assets, such as “mistakenly” depleting assets to become Medicaid eligible.
The Illinois Elder Abuse Statutes are:
- 320 ILCS 20/1-20/15.5 Elder Abuse and Neglect Act
- 210 ICS 30/1-30/16 Abused and Neglected Long Term Care Residents
- 20 ILCS 105/1-9 Illinois Act on the Aging
If you or a loved one have been the victim of elder abuse, or you suspect it, contact the attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle. We are knowledgeable regarding the changes and complexities of this evolving area of the law, and committed to fighting for our clients' rights in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, you can contact us online or give us a call at 630-333-0333. Conveniently located in Chicago and Elmhurst, Illinois.