An often underreported and far-too-common occurrence is senior financial abuse. Senior financial abuse is when someone manipulates an older person in some way to take their money. Sometimes this occurs by the culprit deceiving the victim and taking their money. Other times, this occurs through the court system, by the culprit claiming the victim is unfit to manage their own estate.
Here are some ways you can watch for, and prevent, senior financial abuse.
How to Prevent Senior Financial Abuse
Designate Power of Attorney
If you or a person you know is still sharp of mind but getting on in years, consider getting power of attorney set up. Designate a trusted person who won’t misuse your finances as your executor in the event that your mental state deteriorates. This way, you can rest assured that your finances will be in safe hands.
If you’re concerned about someone you know being financially abused, ask them who they would trust with their money, and have them go through getting that person set up with power of attorney.
If you have an older loved one that you’re concerned about, make sure you stay in touch. Stay informed about who they spend time with, and if they seem to be spending a lot of money on distant relatives or strangers. If you’re concerned about a parent’s finances, see if they’ll let you become a “trusted contact” on their bank account so you can monitor for any strange withdrawals.
Keeping Finances Tight
Make sure you or your loved one’s finances are locked up tight. For instance, make sure that any income goes through direct deposit, so caregivers don’t need to cash any checks. Likewise, elder persons should refrain from discussing income and savings, especially with caregivers and distant family members.
Finally, elder persons should never sign documents they don’t understand. This goes for the children of seniors, as well. If someone presents confusing financial documents relating to an older person’s estate, and you don’t understand them, don’t sign them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.