Recently American radio legend Jim Bohannon interviewed me on my book The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. Financial exploitation of seniors poses a threat to our families and communities, and wrongdoers continue to prey on our elderly loved ones. Jim asked me a great question: What steps can we take to protect ourselves and our relatives from elder financial abuse? Here are some concrete measures I outlined:
- Create a trust. You as the maker of the trust can become the trustee and control accounts and real property.
- In case of incapacitation, a successor trustee you appoint can manage your trust.
- Be transparent with relatives and communicate on your estate plan.
- Have a power of attorney. There is a medical power of attorney for certain circumstances. Durable power of attorney takes effect immediately. Springing power of attorney only takes effect in event of incapacitation.
- Only assign power of attorney to someone you can really trust. Power of attorney means power over assets: bank accounts, securities, and possibly your house.
- A trusted relative should have the ability to review and elder's accounts. In addition, someone should be checking on the elder to ensure their well-being.
- For those who keep cash - tell someone close to you where the cash is, how much is there, share combination. Cash can be stolen quickly by estate thieves.
To find out more, just listen to the excerpt of our interview below: