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A trend is emerging in Australia: we’re living longer and richer than any time in history. As a result, the inheritance that parents are planning to leave to their adult children is delayed.

Early inheritance syndrome, or “inheritance impatience”, is becoming a more common issue. Some adult children feel a sense of entitlement to their parents’ assets and assume it to be theirs already.

Sadly, these impatient children are not prepared to wait until their parents pass away. They seek ways for their parents to ‘‘gift’’ them money, or interfere in the management of their parents’ assets to protect what they see as their entitlement. Depending on the situation, this can be considered Financial Elder Abuse.

Warning signs of financial elder abuse

The following signs may indicate an older person is being subjected to inheritance impatience or financial elder abuse: 

  • Family members who try to inappropriately influence their parents’ choices including encouraging them to make changes to their Will.
  • Older persons frequently changing their mind about their enduring power of attorney
  • Lack of money for day to day items
  • Loss of jewellery or personal belongings
  • Older person expressing fear, anxiety or confusion when discussing finances, assets, property
  • Unexplained amounts of money missing from bank accounts
  • Unpaid accounts
  • Loss of trust

Preventing financial abuse

It’s important to appoint a trustworthy person as a power-of-attorney.

Taking extra care to safeguard your finances does not mean that financial abuse will never happen, but it will ensure that an older person’s wishes are clear, and allows for early detection if things are not going well.

What do to if you suspect an older person is a victim of financial elder abuse

The good news is, help is available. It is possible to revoke someone’s power-of-attorney, and steps can be taken to have misappropriated assets returned.

If you suspect that financial elder abuse is happening, report it to authorities. You can call 1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) for information, free advice and referrals for further support services in your state. You can also get advice about what legal options are available. 

Our experienced Will dispute lawyers are here to help. 

Our team of Will dispute lawyers are here to guide you through every step of challenging a Will. We have a long history of helping people contest a Will and settling Will disputes in Australia. 

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