Protective Action
You Can Take Now

to Prevent or Minimize the Chance(s) of an Elderly Person Being Abused, Neglected or Exploited

Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Elder Abuse Attorney

NJ-elder-Abuse-LawyerYou may suspect a loved one is starting to fail or possibly elder abuse is taking place but what can you do?  Anything?  The answer is a definite “yes”!  Certain preventive measures may be appropriate to minimize the chances that an elderly person will become a dangerous risk to himself/herself or a victim of financial and physical exploitation. Remember this, with elder abuse and financial exploitation time is not your friend and delaying your response may have devastating consequences. Here are some immediate and simple steps to take:

  • Direct deposit Social Security checks. This is easy to arrange with the Social Security administration.  Call your local Social Security Administration Office for the forms and procedures you must complete. You can go online to the Social Security website found HERE which specifies the steps to take to become a “representative payee” for a vulnerable adult and safeguard their monthly social security or SSI check.
  • Create a joint bank account or establish a convenience checking/savings account so that you have banking authority and, equally important, have access to the person’s daily and monthly transactions with electronic access via the internet. You absolutely must get the predators name off the account and revoke their authority under an existing Power of Attorney, withdraw all of the joint funds and place these funds under your safekeeping but be careful how you act because you may then be accused by the predator of depriving the elderly person of his/her funds. Before you act you may want to speak to me personally so I can layout the process and explain in detail just what and how things should be done and in what order.
  • Consider recommending the individual execute a new power of attorney (POA) appointing a reliable relative or friend as agent, who can also serve as the representative payee to handle the client’s Social Security and other public benefits or pension funds, or establish a trust if the client has significant assets.  Selection of an individual as a power of attorney should be made with great care.  If a power of attorney is drafted, you may want to include provisions to minimize the chances of exploitation, such as limiting the amount of money that can be transferred by the agent, allowing transfers of money only into a trust or an account that benefits the elderly person, require regular written accountings and related documentation for transactions made under the power, or require that the principal be notified before a significant transaction is completed.  Not all documents need this level of detail but at least discuss it with your attorney. Consider drafting a contract, signed by the attorney-in-fact, that covers accountings, payment for services, documentation, and other precautions to limit the possibility of abuse.

I’ve written an extensive website devoted exclusively to the subject of Powers of Attorney that you can access easily by clicking HEREYou’ll find it to be a terrific resource.

After exploitation has occurred, your options are limited.  Taking the above actions may help to minimize further exploitation.  You may want to consider filing criminal charges or civil proceedings against the perpetrator of the exploitation.  Theft is not limited to robbing a bank at gun point.

Learn the Protective Actions You Can Take to
Prevent or Minimize Elder Abuse and Exploitation


When an elderly person is a victim of domestic violence, the individual should consult New Jersey’s domestic violence laws (see page title “NJ laws on Elder Abuse” found in this site). This page goes into significant detail on the NJ laws which govern elder abuse. It may be possible to obtain a temporary restraining order or domestic violence injunction, or to commence a separate maintenance or divorce proceeding, depending upon the elderly person’s wishes.  Please also see our website for additional information on domestic violence and elder abuse. This site is written for non-lawyers and provides a wealth of free information.

File a Protective Complaint in Superior Court in Lieu of a Guardianship Action

There is a seldom used but potentially effective alternative to guardianship which can address elder financial exploitation much faster and with less focus on the mental competency of the victim.  Guardianship requires proof that the abused person is incapacitated, meaning not in their right mind.  A protective proceeding does not.  What must be demonstrated is that the elderly person is subject to the influence of a predator (family member, “friend”, caregiver, spouse, etc.) and is being exploited and, therefore, needs protection.  Filing such a legal action does not require two doctors’ reports, medical proof and the other formalities of a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding.  But it does require some examples (proof) of exploitation and/or abuse that warrants a court’s protective order.

PROTECTIVE COMPLAINTS CAN BE QUITE EFFECTIVE.   It gets you into court quickly, it often intimidates and immediately stops predators from further stealing.  If you’re interested in discussing this option, I welcome you to call me toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email me at

Office of The Public Guardian and Adult Protective Services

An adult guardianship may be desirable or necessary for a victim who has lost capacity.  New Jersey provides for a “public guardianship,” that is, court appointment of a public official or agency to serve as guardian of an incompetent person, usually when no private person or agency is available or willing to assume this responsibility.  You may find that a public guardianship is the only route available to provide on going assistance if or when you are unable to maintain continued involvement or there are insufficient assets to pay for a professional guardian.A guardian can be authorized to make legal, financial and health care decisions for the ward.  Depending on the terms of the guardianship, the guardian may be given decision-making power over only those areas in which the incapacitated person is unable to make responsible decisions.  This is called a limited guardianship.  Especially important is the appointment of a guardian of the property which gives the guardian powers over the person’s finances including banking, social security, veteran’s benefits, paying bills, borrowing or loaning money and whatever to buy or sell real estate and stock accounts. You can learn more about guardianships at our site, It’s a terrific resouse.

You can also visit the following page found on this site.  Click HERE read more about protective actions you can take now.

How a Guardianship Can Help
Protect Against Elder Financial Abuse

Challenging Gifts Made Because of a Lack of Capacity, Financial Exploitation of an Older Individual Under New Jersey Elder Abuse Laws

What is Undue Influence and How Does it
Apply to Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

Fred Niemann, Elder Abuse Lawyer in New Jersey

Fred Niemann, Elder Abuse Lawyer in New Jersey

Suspect elderly abuse similar to that described on this page?  Not sure what to do?  Then contact Fredrick P. Niemann, an experienced New Jersey elder abuse and financial exploitation attorney toll-free at

(855) 376-5291 or email him at

He welcomes your inquires and you will find him easy to discuss your concerns in confidence and in private.