Australia has a rapidly ageing population and the issues around financial elder abuse are rising. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics over the past 20 years the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 12.3% to 15.9%. Seniors and baby boomers identify the risk of financial elder abuse as one of their key concerns as they age.

Dementia is a growing health concern. According to Dementia Australia there are 459,000 Australians living with dementia and the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 590,000 by 2028 and 1,076,000 by 2058. The Australian Institute of Family Studies says that financial elder abuse is on the rise and those living with dementia are at greatest risk of financial elder abuse. The Law Council of Australia (LCA) have identified that financial elder abuse has escalated sharply over the past 10 years and that most financial elder abuse occurs under the cover of an activated POA document.

The Civil Affairs Tribunal (SACAT in SA, VCAT in Vic, etc) are experiencing an increased incidence of financial elder abuse issues coming before their magistrates. The LCA recognises that more cases of financial elder abuse are coming before the courts, including an associated rise in contestation of wills.

Families experience enormous distress and strained family relationships when a will is contested right at a time when they are grieving the loss of their loved one. When a will is contested legal costs substantially erode the net value of the estate. Sometimes when a will is contested the outcome is that the assets are distributed contrary to the deceased’s stated wishes, tainting the memory and legacy of the deceased.