How to get help for financial abuse

It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that someone you care about may be a victim of financial abuse. Especially if the person you suspect is in a position of trust, perhaps a family member or a carer. 

Sometimes, it may seem tempting to look away if you’re wary of disrupting family dynamics or care arrangements. There is also the concern of upsetting the potentially older or vulnerable person who is oblivious to the abuse. 

Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in October 2021, revealed one in six older people experienced some form of abuse in care settings in the last year. 

Age UK and Help the Aged report that 70% of financial abuse is perpetrated by family members, and 50% by adult children.

What are the steps to take if you think someone is being financially abused?

Case Study:

I acted for Lucy who lived alone following the death of her only sibling. She then owned the family home and had substantial savings. None of this wealth meant a great deal to Lucy who lived a simple life. She gratefully accepted the help offered by her gardener, to whom she granted the Lasting Power of Attorney, that he printed and brought round for her to sign in the presence of a friend.  Lucy was relieved not to have to manage her finances that she had previously always left to others to do.  

It was only upon losing her home and most of her savings that Lucy was “rescued” by an Advocate who brought her to me.

The Advocate and I worked together to revoke the LPA and make a new one, and to take proceedings to recover her assets. 


Take your suspicions to someone:

- Report as a Safeguarding concern to the Local Authority, who have a duty to investigate a report of any adult at risk of abuse (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance#safeguarding-1

- If your evidence is strong enough, report the abuse to the Police as this is a crime known as Fraud by Abuse of Position under s4 of the Fraud Act 2006. 

Need support?

SFE lawyers have the knowledge and skills to help you navigate through, what can be, a difficult situation. 

Find a local solicitor near you: https://sfe.legal/find-a-lawyer/

 

Melinda Giles

Partner in Essex based firm Giles Wilson LLP

Melinda heads the Private Client & Court of Protection Team having specialised in elderly and vulnerable client advice for over 20 years.  She was on the first Panel of Professional Deputies (then Receivers) and has an LLM in Mental Health & Capacity Law where her dissertation on financial abuse achieved a distinction.

Melinda represents Private Client solicitors on the Law Society Council and is a member of the Wills & Equity Policy Committee and Private Client Section Committee.

She has been a member of SFE since it began.