The Prevalence of Elder Abuse is Rising – Be Aware
As our population ages, elder abuse issues are becoming more and more prevalent. As lawyers, we are seeing more instances of elder or vulnerable persons being coerced or taken advantage of. In some instances, this results in the elder person transferring or gifting away their assets to others, and/or making sudden or unprecedented changes to their Wills, often very near the end of their lives.
We want to raise awareness about the potential for this type of elder abuse, and encourage all advisors to take appropriate steps if you encounter a client who may be in this situation.
Elder abuse is any action by someone in a relationship of trust that results in harm or distress to an older person. Also, abuse can take the form of neglect – this is a lack of action by the person in a relationship of trust, with the same result. Commonly recognized types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial abuse. Often, more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a repeated pattern of behaviour.
We see that financial abuse is the most commonly reported type of elder abuse.
There are a number of designated agencies who are legally mandated to investigate reports of elder abuse and neglect.
If you encounter an instance of elder abuse, please refer to this resource from the Government of B.C. to help you determine what steps to take.