If there was an easy way to identify and prevent seniors being taken advanage of financially, then the rate of exploitation would be far lower than it is. The stark reality is that it is a big challenge to catch elder financial abuse before it occurs and identify the problem afterwards. Yet, the difficulty does not mean that nothing can be done. Instead, there must be an amped up effort to address the problem, and there is no better time to do that than now.
Over the next few weeks many families will get together in various settings to celebrate the holiday season. From dinners and parties to religious services and family meals, this time of year is always filled with relatives and close friends convening together to share in one another’s company. As such, it may be a great time for families to bring up–very carefully–any concerns they might have about protecting a senior loved one’s financal resources from those who prey on vulnerable elders. A recent Forbes article recently made the same point.
The story mentioned that represenaties from the Aging section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a similar call. The representive remarked: “This holiday season, we encourage families to spend some time asking older family members some basic questions to ensure that their finances are in good hands and that if there are signs of abuse, that the right steps are taken to stop it.”
Often there is not an easy or straight-forward way to broach the topic. After all, it is not enough to ask directly if the senior has been financial exploited. Instead, it is often better to bring up tangential issues which might indicate potential abuse, such as asking about interesting new financial developments, any changes to the mortgage, or if the senior has been interacting with any new people lately. All of these are common areas where exploitation might occur. Of course, learning about a new financial issue or a new person in the senior’s life does not automatically mean that they have fallen for a scam. However, it does allow an opening to learn more to see if anything unsavory has occurred.
The article includes a list of common tips to help prevent exploitation and identify it. Part of that list refers to the role that an elder law attorney or estate planning laywer can play in preventing and helping in these cases. The story reminds readers of the importance of meeting with a legal professional to have a durable power of attorney created as well as things like a living trust and will. These documents go a long way to not only ensuring long-term issues are handled but also to prevent assets from unfairly falling into the wrong hands. It is far harder for a swindler to acccess funds in a trust or overseen by a professional than it is to access a nest egg sitting in a bank account without protection.
In New York, the legal professionals at our firm have been helping families throughout the state on these very issues for decades.
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New York Seniors & Financial Swindlers