It’s not something that anyone wants to think about, but elder abuse is more common than most people realize. There are people out there, often people in positions of trust, that take advantage of the elderly, especially when it comes to financial matters. These kinds of crimes can have a devastating effect when it comes to estate planning, as well as emotional and mental wellbeing, so it’s worth knowing what to watch out for. If you suspect that you or someone you love is being financially victimized, get in touch with an attorney right away.
Here are a few tips that can help you prevent elder financial abuse from happening:
- Understand the risk factors
There are certain circumstances that may make someone more susceptible to abuse, and it’s important to recognize those right away. Any type of mental or cognitive impairment is a big risk factor, along with having a publicly large estate/assets. Also, pay attention for signs of isolation, as this is a way that abusers prevent their victims from seeking help.
- Pay attention to the paperwork
If you notice discrepancies in your elderly loved one’s accounts, like debits that don’t quite add up, or guardianship/home care fees that seem unusually high, stay on high alert. Look for unusual spending patterns, or sudden increases in shopping or entertainment expenses.
- Beware of everyone, even family members
Unfortunately, money can make people behave strangely, and family members are no exception. Be aware of friends, relatives, and dependents acting unusually interested in the elderly individual and their welfare, and don’t hand over the controls just because of relation.
- Establish legal roles
To prevent elder financial abuse, an estate planning attorney can help you establish protections like filing for legal guardianship and appointing a third party accountant or advisor to oversee finances. When these roles are clearly and legally defined, it’s much harder for someone to hide monetary abuse.
- Have your paperwork in order
If you are ill or aging, it’s critical that you have your will and other estate planning documents in place to protect you and your assets. Work with professionals to make a budget for your living expenses and medical care, put your final wishes in writing, and consider adding a durable power of attorney document to your file. This will give someone you trust the ability to make financial decisions for you, in case you become unable to do so.
Do you want to learn more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from elder financial abuse? Reach out to our firm today for your free consultation.