Law enforcement officers, senior care agency officials, and senior care advocates all believe that having neutral, third-parties with an eye on a senior’s finances is an important way to identify when financial exploitation occurs. Those outside parties can identify particularly suspicious transactions and alert authorities. Our New York elder law estate planning lawyers are proud to play a role in this process, ensuring some local seniors are not taken advantage of by the unscrupulous.
A Monterey County Weekly article on the topic of senior financial exploitation explained yet another factor in prevention efforts–ensuring proper legal documents are in place well before times of incapacity. This is one of the paramount goals of elder law estate planning. The legal documents, such as a Power of Attorney and Health Care proxy, are crucial in ensuring that trusted others can act on the senior’s behalf in case physical or mental problems develop.
One common problem is that mental health ailments rarely occur suddenly. Instead, most seniors experience lack of capacity gradually, over a period of time. This often leads families to put off taking the proper legal steps, assuming that there is always more time. Many are waiting for a clear sign that help is needed, even though that clear sign will only come when it might be too late. It should go without saying that the earlier alternative decision-making documents are in place, the better.
Failing to have a trusted friend, family member, or advisor with the ability to step in when needed frequently leaves seniors exposed to being taken advantage of financially. That is because those with various mental diseases, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, are far more likely to be swindled by scammers. This is true even for seniors in the earlier stages of these ailments.
However, even if a senior has all of their mental faculties, it is helpful for loved ones to keep a close eye on those in a position to exploit the senior’s finances. For example, the article shares the story of the “classic” problem of caregivers who befriend a vulnerable senior, work their way into the senior’s life, and then attempt to use their position for their own gain.
The executive director of a senior advocacy group explained that those types of abusers “look at the senior citizen as one gigantic piggy bank and they slowly start to take their resources away.” Each New York elder law attorney at our firm appreciates the need to prevent these sorts of abuses as early as possible, because there is often little that can be done to recover resources after they are taken.
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