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Elder Financial Abuse – The Role Of A Trustee

Probate Court in Santa Ana, California
Trust Litigation Jul 08, 2024

Who is a trustee?

In simple terms, a trustee is someone who manages the finances for a person or a group, generally administering a trust. There are significant fiduciary duties associated with this role, and spotting elder financial abuse is part of that responsibility. There are also times when a trustee violates the parameters of the living trust and is responsible for criminal financial elder abuse.

We have created this succinct guide to help guide you as a trustee or fiduciary on actions that signal financial elder abuse.

What constitutes acts of financial elder abuse?

SituationHow Elders are Subjected to Undue Financial InfluenceRole of a Trustee
IsolationIsolating the elder person from friends and family. The trick here is to create a higher dependency on the influencer. It is your role as a trustee to ensure regular social interaction and communication with family and friends.
Trust AbuseA trusted person (like a caregiver, gardener or nanny) misuses their position to gain financial control.Regular and structured reviews of financial transactions are key by the trustee. This is important to safeguard financial documents.
Manipulation of Legal DocumentsA trusted person (like a caregiver, gardener, or nanny) misuses their position to change legal documents like a will, trust or financial information.The trustee must ensure that any changes to legal documents are made voluntarily and with full mental capacity. Our law firm can be part of that process of witnessing and making sure the changes are in step with the law.
Pressure and CoercionVulnerable elders are pressured into financial decisions that benefit the influencer.The trustee has to vet, and police, and should always verify the elder’s understanding and consent of major financial decisions.
Exploitation of Cognitive DeclineElders with cognitive decline are manipulated due to their diminished capacity.The trustee must make time to work with qualified healthcare professionals to assess the elderly’s cognitive health and ensure decisions are made in their best interest.
Misrepresentation and FraudLies and false information by Influencers can be created to deceive elders into financial transactions.The trustee should provide oversight and verify the accuracy of information presented to the elder.
Promises of CareThe influencer is able to charm, convince, and falsely promise care or companionship in exchange for financial benefits.The trustee should be part of the interview process, in qualifying the caregiver, doing background checks, etc, and have regular reviews. This is to ensure that the elder’s care needs are met without compromising their financial security.
Emotional ManipulationGifting or loans are a huge sign of possible elder emotional abuse. The trustee has to be vigilant and should establish boundaries and monitor unusual financial activity.
Sudden Appearance of New FriendsNew acquaintances gain trust and access to finances quickly. The trustee should investigate the motives and background of new individuals involved in the elder’s life.
Control Over Financial AccountsInfluencers gain access to bank accounts and use funds inappropriately.The trustee should oversee account access and manage withdrawals and transfers.

As a trustee, you hold a huge responsibility in protecting, investigating, and litigating financial abuse. If you aren’t an attorney and have no clue how to manage this very complex and tedious role, we can work with you as legal experts in litigating your trust, estate, and probate and handle matters around conservatorship to bring justice to criminal financial elder abuse.

Discuss your case with us today: request a consultation HERE


Ms. Minto has been a business and estates transactional attorney based in California since 2003. Her practice is now located in Tustin, CA but represents individuals and entities based throughout the United States and abroad. Phone: (949) 253-0000, Email:


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