Elder financial abuse is a huge problem in Florida and the rest of the United States. According to Consumer Reports, an estimated 30 billion dollars a year is frauded out of senior citizens. Sometimes this fraud is committed by strangers, and other times it is committed by friends and family members.
However, there are many things you can do to prevent your loved one from becoming a financial abuse victim. The first is to start financial talks with your elderly family member prior to potential cognitive impairment becoming a problem. Lots of abuse happens after a senior citizen loses the ability to think independently and clearly. Having legal conversations when your loved one’s cognitive abilities are still fully present can save a lot of headache and heartache in the future.
A second step is ensuring that all necessary legal documents are in place. This may include paperwork like wills, testaments, a HIPAA release form, healthcare proxies, and general power of attorney. Also, it is important to decide who will be in charge of assets and legal powers should the senior citizen in question lose the ability to make independent decisions. Oftentimes this burden is left to the oldest child by default, but this is not necessarily the best overall choice. Sometimes, it is best for multiple people to share the responsibility to ensure proper checks and balances.
Make sure to streamline your loved one’s finances while possible. For example, many seniors have several different accounts (401ks, pensions, etc.) scattered all over the place as a result of multiple jobs or moves. Consolidating these assets can make decision-making easier.
This article is intended to educate you about Elder Financial abuse. It is not intended to be legal advice.