Financial exploitation, fraud, and financial neglect are forms of elder abuse. Statistics indicate financial elder abuse accounts for billions of dollars in losses annually, with more than one in ten elderly adults falling victim to elder fraud each year. In many cases, elder financial abuse can be prevented before it begins. Our North Carolina elder law attorneys can help you take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones against financial elder abuse, including, but not limited to:
Designate a Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney allows an agent that you appoint to conduct financial transactions on your behalf. The “durable” clause permits your agent to continue acting on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Only give this power to someone you trust to make decisions that benefit your best interests. Talk with a lawyer about customizing the power of attorney to meet your needs.
Set Up a Trust Agreement
A trust holds property or money for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The trust property is managed according to the trust terms by a trustee. The grantor can serve as the trustee himself, or appoint someone else as the trustee. If the trustee becomes incapacitated, the successor trustee appointed by the grantor assumes management of the trust.
As the trust agreement can contain detailed instructions on how the assets within the trust are to be managed and used, a trust may be able to provide more protection against fraud and financial abuse than a power of attorney. Trusts are also beneficial estate planning tools that can be used to avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, and protect beneficiaries.
Consult Trusted Individuals Regarding Financial Decisions
Talking with financial professionals, lawyers, and trusted relatives when making major financial decisions can also help prevent financial elder abuse. Scammers are devious when developing ways to steal money from elderly individuals.
Encourage your loved ones to contact you if anyone tries to convince them to sign documents, send money, or engage in any financial transactions they did not initiate. Even when they initiate financial transactions, it can be helpful for an elderly individual to have a trusted source of advice before making a financial decision.
Never Give Personal Information to Random Individuals or Companies
Ensure your loved ones understand that they should never give their Social Security Numbers, birth dates, bank account information, credit card numbers, and other financial data to someone who calls them. Legitimate businesses will not make unsolicited calls to ask for this information.
The same applies to someone who asks for the information by email or text. If you or a loved one receive a letter requesting the information, you should talk with a trusted friend, relative, or professional before responding to the letter.
Set Up View Only Access to Accounts
Check with your financial institution about “view only” access to your accounts. Add a trusted loved one authority to view your bank accounts and credit card accounts if possible. Your loved one can monitor the accounts for unusual activity that could indicate financial elder abuse.
Schedule a Consultation With Our North Carolina Estate Planning Attorneys
A comprehensive estate plan can help protect you from financial elder abuse. Contact our law firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced North Carolina estate planning attorney. We’ll work with you to develop an estate plan that accomplishes all your goals.