High instances of elder abuse linked to rising house prices in the Hunter Valley

High instances of elder abuse linked to rising house prices in the Hunter Valley 25 November 2021
Elder abuse in the Hunter Valley

It would be an understatement to say that the housing market in the Hunter Valley has been on a significant upward trend of late, with Newcastle’s median house prices now rivalling that of Melbourne. One of the unfortunate links to this rapidly increasing market has been higher instances of elder abuse, with ‘inheritance impatience’ the leading cause behind it.

What is ‘inheritance impatience’?

The term ‘inheritance impatience’ is used to describe a situation whereby a family member or friend uses an elderly person’s funds for their own purposes due to some pre-emptive sense of ownership or entitlement to the money. It is one of the leading causes for financial abuse of a parent by a child. 

What has this looked like recently? 

Increasing instances of ‘inheritance impatience’ have taken many different forms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising property market. 

One frequently reported form is adult children pressuring their ageing parents to assist them to get into the housing market, either by pressuring their parents to providing large sums of cash, or by pressuring them to offer up their home as security for the adult child’s mortgage. 

Another frequently reported form has been adult children moving back in with their ageing parents, after losing jobs or having their working hours significantly reduced, and then not paying rent or contributing to other household costs. In some of the worse cases, adult children have then refused to leave when asked. 

Edler abuse

Elder abuse is a particularly complex form of abuse

The unfortunate reality of elder abuse is that it is often a family member or close friend who becomes a perpetrator. 

Older people often report that it is very difficult to say ‘no’ to a loved-one, particularly when they are asked for assistance in a time of perceived need. 

It can be very hard for a victim of elder abuse to speak out and take action, as multi-dimensional family relationships and feelings of betrayal, guilt and perceived responsibility often mar the raw financial issue at play.

What should you do if you or someone you know may be affected by elder abuse?

It is important for older people to know that they are not alone if they find themselves in this situation. Nor should they feel guilty for speaking out. Older people are entitled to say ‘no’ and to use their hard-earned money for their own benefit during their lifetime.

For more information on this topic, check out this great article by the ABC.

If you or someone you know may be affected by elder abuse, you can Contact Us and speak with one of our friendly lawyers on (02) 4943 3988. We have years of experience helping people throughout the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region.

This blog was written by Associate,
 Jessica Benson
Jessica practises in the areas of Family Law, Wills & Estate Planning,
Deceased Estates and Will disputes

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