Elder Financial Exploitation… What Can You Do?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann, a Freehold, NJ Elder Financial Abuse Attorney

I was recently asked to identify criminal statutes dealing with financial exploitation of the elderly through methods such as deceit and misappropriation of funds. Fortunately, acts of deceit and misappropriation issues are covered by New Jersey’s Adult Protection Services Act under N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-407 to 52:27D-425.

Elder abuse and exploitation are generally defined under N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-407. Specifically, “exploitation” is defined as “the act or process of illegally or improperly using a person or his resources for another person’s profit or advantage.” See N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-407. Anyone suspicious of exploitation of an elderly person for purposes of financial gain, for instance, can report suspected exploitations to the county adult protective service provider. See N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-409(a)(2). From there, adult protective services will initiate an investigation into the matter, and upon a determination that the elderly individual is being exploited, a court will provide for appropriate protective services as well as recommendations to the state, the county, and all other local interested parties for services for the individual which the service provider is unable to deliver. See N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-411(a).

The county adult service provider retains the power to institute a petition restraining the caretaker from interfering with matters relating to the exploited elderly individual should the caretaker attempt to interfere with the investigation. See N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-412(a). Ultimately, if it is reasonably believed that the caretaker has committed a criminal act, the county agency is to report the unlawful action to local law enforcement officials or the county prosecutor. See N.J.S.A. § 52:27D-419.

In sum, if there appears to be unlawful conduct in the way of a caretaker exploiting or taking advantage of an elderly person through deceit or misappropriation of funds, then the suspected act should be reported to the county adult service provider. From there, the county will assume the role of investigating the matter and instituting the necessary safeguards to both prevent the threat of further injustice and ensure that the best interests of the elderly individual are sought after. Ultimately, the county will also have the responsibility of passing along any potential criminal matters to the appropriate law enforcement agencies so that justice is served.

To discuss any elder financial abuse matter, please immediately contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com. Ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.