Proper Senior Care Planning Needed to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse

Earlier this year Congressional hearings were held on the often forgotten problem of elder financial exploitation. Federal officials are still considering a variety of legislative options to protect victims of these crimes and hold wrongdoers properly accountable. Our New York elder law attorneys know that many residents in our area fall victim to predatory actions that often deplete resources built up over a lifetime. The problem takes many forms, from identity theft and scams to manipulation by trusted caregivers. Surprisingly, much financial abuse is perpetrated by friends and family members who exploit the senior’s vulnerability for personal enrichment.

While legislative actions may be helpful to better protect seniors from this exploitation, the first line of defense is proper individual financial preparation. Taking proactive steps to minimize the risk of being taken advantage of is the best way each individual resident can protect themselves. For example, a comprehensive story at TBO News explained this week that identity theft can usually be prevented if simple steps are followed. This includes refusing to give personal information over the telephone, deleting unsolicited emails that ask for personal information, and not carrying Social Security cards and multiple credits cards at the same time. Additionally, seniors should be sure to shred personal mail, stop mail before going on vacation, be cautious with online shopping, and frequently review financial statements.

While identity theft is a common fear, most seniors are much more likely to be financially exploited by family and friends. To guard against this mistreatment, local advocates agree that it is important to have a New York elder care plan in place so that trained eyes are aware of your financial situation. Beyond that, simple steps can help to limit one’s risk of being victimized. It remains important never to give blank checks for others to fill in the amount, sign complicated papers that you don’t understand, or give others unlimited access to financial information. In addition, seniors should always work with their banks to control who has access to funds.

It is always preferable for local seniors to prevent the exploitation before it occurs. Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys are able to help residents put plans into place that can act as a layer of protection against unwanted financial tampering. There is no better way to feel protected than by building strong relationships with professionals who handle your financial affairs. No matter what, seniors who are victimized in any way should contact local law enforcement officials. New York elder financial abuse is woefully underreported. This makes it difficult for advocates to identify the scope of the problem or take steps to help those who have been hurt.

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