“Elder financial abuse is a growing problem. Here's what you can to do prevent your elderly loved ones from being swindled.”
Some seniors have a hard time making ends meet with only their Social Security benefits, pensions, and retirement plan withdrawals. However, this can be exacerbated when an elderly person becomes the victim of a financial scam. Sadly, the most elder financial abuse cases are committed by family or "friends." The Motley Fool’s recent article, “Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Abuse,” gives some advice on how to protect your elderly loved ones from falling victim to an unscrupulous third party.
First of all, you can help elderly loved ones get their estate plans in order, while they still have the mental capacity to do so. This is critical. They should have a will, medical and durable powers of attorney, a living will and perhaps a living trust. Trying to create an estate plan after Alzheimer's or dementia has developed is difficult. You should arrange to have their estate planning attorney tell you if your elderly loved ones suddenly make major changes in their estate plans, like excluding children from their wills or naming new beneficiaries who you don’t know.
You can add yourself on as an interested party to their financial accounts. Therefore, if your senior is at the stage where they can’t understand their financial statements or manage their money, you can help them monitor their accounts by getting duplicate statements or having online access to their accounts. This lets you monitor for any signs of trouble—like unexplained withdrawals or a substantial shift in their portfolios that’s not in line with their risk tolerance or investment objectives. A durable power of attorney may be needed, if it’s apparent that you should assume control of management of their accounts.
If your elderly loved ones are protected from phone solicitors by the do-not-call list, then this decreases the chances of them falling prey to a scheme from a phone scammer.
Talk with your senior loved ones. This is the most common-sense action you can take to prevent elder financial abuse. If he or she is still able hold a conversation, then caution them regarding the dangers of telemarketers and scammers who will try to get their money. Warn them about promises of things that seem too good to be true or attempts to emotionally manipulate them into sending money. You can also check their credit reports to make sure they haven't fallen victim to identity theft.
These are some of the measures you can take to reduce the chances that your senior loved ones will become victims of financial abuse.
Reference: Motley Fool (February 15, 2017) “Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Abuse”