Financial abuse of elders 79



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The second largest type of elder abuse is financial abuse. Did you ever think that in your golden years, your life would become a misery not because of the big bad world, but because of the actions of your children?

In your worst nightmare, can you imagine being robbed of your pension, not by a masked vandal, but by a family member? Of course you can’t, but this is the grim reality for far too many older people.

Stealing a parent’s money, house, savings and superannuation is an all too frequent occurrence. Although numerous cases of financial abuse are discovered, the oft repeated excuse was “But it’s going to be mine anyway!” There is even a term for it, intergenerational wealth redistribution – sounds less criminal than theft, doesn’t it? Frequently these cases go unprosecuted, because it must be a mistake, “my child would never do that to me”. Even in cases where abuse is proven, restitution is infrequent as often the money is long gone.

Consider this:

The kids convince their parent (s) to sell their house “It’s too big for you now” and use the proceeds to build a new home for the kids. “You can come and live with us in a granny flat, you will be close to the grandkids” only to find that they become the unpaid carer of their grandchildren at all hours as required, “It’s not as if you have anything else to do”.

The promised granny flat is no more than a converted garage; with a tiny shower and toilet at one end. The kitchen is a microwave, a small stove top and a sink; not exactly the place for cosy meals. “We were going to build a granny flat, but when the pool, spa and entertaining area went, in there wasn’t enough room and what more do you need at your age?”

What happens if for some reason the parent wants some/all of their money returned? Chances are they are met with cries of “but you gave us the money as a gift,” or “who do you think has been paying the rates, taxes, water etc. on your granny flat?”

Do you think this is an exaggeration? How I wish it were. This is an actual case; the conversations are the only dramatic license.

What happens if there is a divorce requiring sale of the marital home? What is the parent’s share of the divorce settlement? What percentage of the settlement belongs to the person who sold their home to pay for the one being sold?

Now not for a minute am I suggesting parents should not assist their children – a granny flat arrangement can be a wonderful solution for both parties. BUT the interests of the parent, the elder, the senior MUST be protected. Legally binding documents must be drawn up which address such issues as interest payments, capital repayments, sharing expenses etc. We all believe it won’t happen to us, our kids aren’t like that; sadly too many older people have found to their dismay that their kids are just like that.

The next generation have no right to, nor interest in, your money, home or other assets. This is money you earned and saved over a life time; it is your money to share, or not, as you see fit. You are not spending the kid’s inheritance, you are enjoying your life.

Are you in the position where you have put money into your child’s home? Are you protected against the worst case scenario?


Remember Trust Your Instincts – if it feels wrong, it is wrong.

There is someone you can talk to, all states have an Elder Abuse Helpline:

Queensland – 1300 651 192

New South Wales – 1800 628 881

ACT (Canberra) – (02) 6242 5060

Victoria – 1300 368 821

Tasmania – (03) 6237 0047

South Australia – (08) 8232 5377

Western Australia – 1300 724 679

Northern Territory – 1800 037 072

Karen OBrien Hall

Karen O'Brien-Hall followed many careers in her life and loved each one! From accountancy to the hospitality industry, from managing an employment agency to Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a multi-national, when she retired Karen was in Public Relations. Whatever her career path at the time, Karen is a lifelong volunteer. Married to "the love of my life", John, her second love is community theatre where she enjoys acting and directing. Karen enjoys time in her garden and can always finds time to read, around 8 – 10 books a month. Her reviews appear on Starts at Sixty, Goodreads,The Reading Room and her own page

  1. Been around for years what’s new

    1 REPLY
    • Oh, Nola. Superficially, at least, that sounds cynical but I truly hope it’s not because you’ve been on the receiving end of it for any reason or at any stage of your life. As Karen shows, above, there are elder abuse helplines but you also have local organisations such as Anglicare and the Salvos who may be able to help, too.

  2. sad truth, i keep telling my parents to spend because we are just going on a cruise with the inheritence

    1 REPLY
    • This is beautiful. Yes we told our mum and dad, and in-laws to spend up. Sadly I have seen people take financial advantage of their parents

  3. Disgusting. Hope everyone rethinks things when the read this and know deep down their kids are not to be trusted.

    4 REPLY
    • How sad… that you would not trust your children after having raised them, surely you can trust them. They may not do what you expect from them but that has nothing to do with trust… :/

    • It depends on how you raised those children, Mine are all for me downsizing but being independent so I can have fun with my money and not have the worry of maintaining a large home. I don’t have any intention of living with them and they wouldn’t want me too. If children are selfish perhaps we were too lenient with them when younger. All ours had part time jobs and were told that you deserve what you earn to get there. They are married with families and free off financial concerns.

      1 REPLY
      • Sorry part time jobs whilst at school, fulltime after graduating from uni and free of financial concerns.

    • Ruth Weston, that is the point of this article. Some children cannot be trusted, and are taking advantage of their parents financially. This does happen. I had a cousin who asked her parents for her inheritance over twenty years ago…hehe her parents are now in their nineties, and didn’t give it to her. She cries, ‘I will be an old lady by the time I get it’. She doesn’t care that her parents will have to die first. Just a warning to the people out there, who like you, trust their children to do the right thing by them.

  4. I am so blessed , my kids make sure everything is ok, even my bank manager says I am very lucky to have a beautiful daughter in law. Makes me feel good inside knowing I have taught them well.

  5. Have seen this first hand when my two younger sisters tried to get my mothers money off her. I had to bring in a solicitor to stop them and make sure they never have that opportunity again.

  6. I have 4 children and 12 grandchildren and have not heard from them in 7 years and my mother has not spoken to me in nearly 10 years because she didn’t want people to know she has a fat daughter. Got used to it all now and realize I am a lot better off without them in my life

    5 REPLY
    • Cannot understand how any mother can reject her daughter for any reason, let alone her size. Hope everything will turn out alright for you.

    • Sandra have something similar with my Mother she spit my middle sister and me up hadn’t spoken to my sister in over 11years but glad to say now back together since the passing of my Husband and Mother caused all the problems, in my Mothers Will she had my youngest sister and I were estranged from her and my Father she had 4 Grandsons my youngest sister and my youngest Son got $5000 each from her will my eldest son and nephew got nothing and my middle sister got the sale of her unit. Can’t believe half the stuff my middle sister and I haven’t learnt.

  7. The main requirement before doing this, is to get legal advice. If you then consider that this is right for you, have a legal agreement drawn up, so that you aren’t left with nothing. You can not always trust the word of family even if you do get on with each other. Better to be safe than sorry in the long term..

  8. I’ve worked in age care for 35years.and seen it over and over again. Its the one you least expect is the one. To watch. If you are worried contact public trustee for free advice

    4 REPLY

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