We put a lot of faith in the hands of nursing homes. These facilities are entrusted to care for our most vulnerable loved ones. Sadly, far too often, nursing homes fail to protect their residents. Nursing home abuse can take a number of forms. One type of abuse that does not get enough attention is nursing home financial exploitation.
Types of Financial Abuse
- Unauthorized check cashing;
- The forging of a signature;
- Stealing or misusing a patient’s funds;
- Improper use of legal guardianship; or
- Any other form of abuse that exploits a patient’s resources.
Texas law defines the financial exploitation of a vulnerable person in a fairly broad manner. Under the law, financial exploitation includes any conduct, by a person with an ongoing relationship with an elderly or disabled person, that involves using the vulnerable person’s resources for personal benefit without informed consent. The law is clear. Caregivers cannot, in any way, use their position to take advantage of their patients. The term ‘informed consent’ is very important, because a person cannot legally give informed consent unless they are in a competent enough mental state to understand the full consequences of their actions. Many vulnerable nursing home residents are no longer capable of giving informed consent in any situation. So, even if a caregiver claims that they received ‘consent’ from your loved one to make a financial transaction, in many cases that supposed consent is not legally valid. The bottom line is that when your loved one is unable to truly understand their actions, their caregivers are not allowed to use that to their advantage for personal gain. We must put a stop to the financial exploitation of vulnerable people.
The Signs of Financial Exploitation
Financial exploitation is not always easy to spot. Sometimes the abusers are very clever and work hard to cover their tracks. If you notice any of the following, there may be a problem:
- You see a large unexplained bank transfer or charge;
- There has been a sudden, unusual, change in any legal or financial documents;
- There have been many small checks written to the same individual;
- Personal belongings have gone missing;
- Your loved one is suddenly living below their former means; or
- There is an unexplained reluctance to talk about finances.
Take Legal Action
A qualified nursing home abuse lawyer can help you put stop to financial exploitation. Legal action that should be considered, includes:
- Reporting the financial abuse to the Texas Department of State Health Services;
- Reversing previous legal orders, such as getting the power of attorney revoked;
- Placing yourself, or someone else trusted, as the official financial representative of your vulnerable loved one going forward;
- Putting a block on all financial accounts to eliminate any further exploitation by the financial abuser; and finally
- Taking corrective action to recover compensation.
Under Texas law, you may be able to hold the owner of a nursing facility liable for the financial abuse that happens to their residents. These facilities have a legal obligation to keep their patients free from preventable financial abuse. If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of financial exploitation in a San Antonio nursing home, contact an attorney today.