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Financial Elder Abuse


Overview

As the U.S. population ages, financial elder abuse claims are rapidly increasing. These claims no longer affect only nursing homes, heirs or caregivers. Potential exposure has become a reality for any business that transacts with “elders,” including banks, investment funds and advisors, insurance companies, real estate brokers, accountants, retailers, and lawyers.

There are over 75 million baby boomers. Every day, from now until 2030, more than 10,000 of them will celebrate their 65th birthday.  By 2050, people aged 65 and older are expected to comprise 20 percent of our population. It has become imperative to understand the potential liability for financial elder abuse and institute adequate safeguards and controls.

While elder abuse historically indicated criminal behavior (such as theft or physical abuse), lawmakers are increasingly focused on financial abuse of the elderly, a segment of the population regularly identified as vulnerable and in need of added protection. Many states have enacted a complementary set of statutes that permit civil recovery for financial elder abuse. Some of those statutes:

  • create liability for any person or business that takes real or personal property (including money) of a person over the age of 65 for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, and
  • allow recovery not only for compensatory damages but also emotional distress, punitive and treble damages, and attorneys’ fees. 

In addition, regulatory entities such as the SEC and FINRA have approved new rules governing “vulnerable adults,” including elders. And many states that do not currently have civil elder financial abuse statutes or regulations are considering bills or proposals to add them.  

Many common financial and business transactions and scenarios could potentially result in an elder abuse claim, including: 

  • the sale or purchase of a home, condominium or timeshare.
  • a financial instrument or other investment alleged to provide insufficient returns.
  • investment advice, such as stock trading by a broker.
  • a dispute over an insurance policy.
  • a product, service or warranty alleged to be defective or supposedly overpriced.

Meritorious or not – financial elder abuse lawsuits can be highly volatile and extraordinarily expensive to defend against or to settle because of the risk of significant judgments. The plaintiffs’ bar has recognized this as well and conducts seminars to solicit potential clients. Virtually every business needs to take steps to protect itself against these claims, and employ experienced counsel to defend against them when they are sued.  


Our Services

Carlton Fields lawyers are especially well-positioned to help clients navigate the growing threat these claims present. We understand the importance of building on our clients' culture of preventing elder abuse, and have a deep understanding of present and potential regulations and statutes in this field. We counsel our clients about how to comply with these laws.

Knowing that plaintiff's attorneys will bring superficial, non-meritorious claims, we also stand ready to defend against such litigation abuse. We have successfully litigated cases involving statutory and non-statutory elder financial abuse claims on behalf of clients in diverse industries. We enhance this practice with firm attorneys who provide a specialized understanding of the regulatory and legislative process to assist with compliance.

Our lawyers:

  • have litigated individual and class action cases that raised financial elder abuse claims against businesses in the insurance, accounting, and banking industries through jury trial in state and federal courts.
  • regularly counsel clients regarding compliance with state, federal and other financial elder abuse statutes, rules and regulations.
  • advise businesses on how to prevent and limit claims for financial elder abuse.
  • provide accredited continuing education seminars on financial elder abuse to help businesses limit the potential for these claims.
  • work with and respond to regulators who have concerns relating to financial elder abuse.

 

All Insights

Protecting At-Risk Seniors from Financial Exploitation

Protecting At-Risk Seniors from Financial Exploitation

October 1, 2018

Financial exploitation of senior citizens and other vulnerable adults results in substantial losses each year. This article discusses two of the many recent legislative and regulatory actions targeting this abuse.

Two New FINRA Rules for the Protection of Senior Investors

Two New FINRA Rules for the Protection of Senior Investors

July 10, 2018

The protection of senior investors continues to be a priority for FINRA, from both an examination and enforcement perspective. In fact, FINRA detailed how seniors are one of its major areas of concern in the last three editions of its Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter.

Nonpayment of an Insurance Claim is Not Elder Abuse

Nonpayment of an Insurance Claim is Not Elder Abuse

March 31, 2018

Does the failure to pay an insurance claim constitute elder abuse?

Plaintiffs Survive Standing-Based Challenge to California Senior Notice and Financial Elder Abuse Claims

Plaintiffs Survive Standing-Based Challenge to California Senior Notice and Financial Elder Abuse Claims

September 26, 2017

In California, actions predicated on alleged senior notice requirement violations and financial elder abuse continue to challenge life insurers.

Financial Elder Abuse Litigation Against Insurers

Financial Elder Abuse Litigation Against Insurers

August 1, 2017

Based on an analysis of life insurance and annuity cases involving claims of elder abuse, some common themes emerge: the cases are easy to plead and difficult to dismiss, the “type” of allegation might be outcome determinative at summary judgment, and claims of financial elder abuse add little to a court’s analysis of class certification.

FINRA Moves to Protect Seniors and Other Vulnerable Persons

FINRA Moves to Protect Seniors and Other Vulnerable Persons

June 23, 2017

FINRA has taken another step to protect against what it calls "financial exploitation of vulnerable individuals or individuals with diminished capacity."

Recent Ninth Circuit Rulings Uphold Plaintiffs’ Efforts to Predicate Claims on Alleged Insurance Code Violations — Likely More to Come

Recent Ninth Circuit Rulings Uphold Plaintiffs’ Efforts to Predicate Claims on Alleged Insurance Code Violations — Likely More to Come

June 23, 2017

Recent rulings suggest insurers face increased risk of suits predicating breach of contract and state unfair trade practices claims on alleged violation of state insurance laws, notwithstanding the lack of an express private right of action.

Summary Judgment for Insurer in Annuity Sales Practices Action

Summary Judgment for Insurer in Annuity Sales Practices Action

June 23, 2017

Like many of the bonus annuity class actions brought in the mid-2000s, the plaintiff in Chambers claimed that the insurer misrepresented the terms of the bonus, that there were no "sales fees," and that the interest adjustment applied to partial surrenders.

Fraud-Free Sunsets: How Financial Professionals Can Deter Financial Elder Abuse in Florida and Reduce Their Own Liability Exposure

Fraud-Free Sunsets: How Financial Professionals Can Deter Financial Elder Abuse in Florida and Reduce Their Own Liability Exposure

May 3, 2017

Investment advisers, securities brokers, and other financial professionals who work directly with clients who are age 60 and older have two reasons to learn more about Florida’s financial elder abuse laws.

SEC Approves FINRA Efforts to Protect Seniors and Other Vulnerable Persons

SEC Approves FINRA Efforts to Protect Seniors and Other Vulnerable Persons

April 10, 2017

The SEC recently approved an amendment to FINRA Rule 4512 that requires FINRA members to make reasonable efforts to obtain, from each customer for whom they maintain an account, specified information about a “trusted contact person.”

Signs of an Active 2017 for Laws Protecting Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation

Signs of an Active 2017 for Laws Protecting Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation

April 10, 2017

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)’s Model Legislation or Regulation to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation (Model Act) gained traction in 2016 and appears poised for even more progress in 2017.

Featured Insights

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The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.