Legal and financial sector staff - Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Queensland Government)

Legal and financial sector staff

Professionals in the legal and financial sectors may recognise signs of elder abuse among their clients, particularly in relation to financial abuse.

Things to look out for include family members or carers:

  • denying an older person their right to make their own decisions—including discouraging or refusing them from getting independent legal and financial advice
  • misusing an Enduring Power of Attorney by taking money or property improperly
  • forcing an older person to change their will
  • denying an older person access to, or control of, their own funds
  • selling an older person’s belongings without their permission
  • pension skimming or stealing money which may present as someone being suddenly unable to pay their bills or an unexplained significant reduction in their financial means.

When working with an older person on legal or financial matters, it is important to ensure that their decision making capacity is not impaired and that they have provided appropriate consent. If their decision-making capacity is impaired, Queensland’s guardianship system gives someone the legal authority to make decisions for an adult who doesn’t have the capacity to make such decisions. More information about adult guardians is available on the Office of the Public Guardian website.

It is important that older Queenslanders get independent advice before entering into a loan arrangement with a relative as this is the only way they can ensure they are repaid the money. Without a legally binding agreement, the child only has a moral obligation to repay the money. This can cause long-term financial stress and have serious consequences for the older person.

The following story is drawn from the experiences of callers to the Elder Abuse Helpline. All names have been changed.

Bruce’s story

Bruce, who works in a financial management firm, called the Elder Abuse Helpline to discuss a particular client's situation. Bruce told the story about Bess, an older woman who had moderate dementia and had used their firm for many years prior to the loss of her decision making ability.

Bess’s neighbour and good friend, acting on a valid Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), continued the relationship with the financial management firm and for several years had been the only person the firm dealt with. It had now come to the firm’s attention that the friend had been abusing the EPA by moving Bess’s money through his own accounts and taking out loans against her assets.

Bruce said that when the firm began looking further into the situation, the friend threatened to take his business elsewhere. The helpline operator advised Bruce that financial elder abuse could be occurring and strongly suggested that he refer the matter urgently to the Office of the Public Guardian for investigation, which Bruce committed to doing.

Find out how you can help someone experiencing elder abuse.

Contacts

Elder Abuse Helpline

9am–5pm, Monday to Friday

1300 651 192 (Queensland only)

(07) 3867 2525 (rest of Australia)

This Queensland Government funded helpline is run by UnitingCare Community.

Free anonymous and confidential advice for anyone experiencing elder abuse or who suspects someone they know may be experiencing elder abuse.

In an emergency call the police on triple zero (000).

Other support services

Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.