Educational programs, along with increased staffing at district attorney’s offices are great, but when abusers are family members, it’s hard to protect seniors.
It’s not pleasant to contemplate, but according to TC Palm, in “For seniors, financial scams may be closer than thought,” one financial study found that as many as 71% of elder financial abuse cases are thought to have been committed by the adult children of seniors.
In some instances, it can be an impatience to inherit or having a sense of entitlement because their care of the parent can justify their accessing funds to which they feel entitled. This could involve frequent dinners out, filling up the gas tank, or paid vacations for all their help … and typically the rest of the family has no idea that it’s happening. It’s not uncommon to have a sibling who cares for the senior parents end up feeling entitled to a tropical vacation, a new car, or a down payment on a house on the parents’ tab, while the other siblings are unaware that this is happening to their parents.
Many state laws aren’t sufficient to protect elders in these types of situations. Currently, investigations go nowhere because, in many cases involving familial elderly abuse, it’s one person’s word against the other. Therefore, what can a person do to protect a senior when the adult children have reasonable explanations for money spent or money that’s needed?
With rates of elderly abuse running this high, specifically financial abuse, seniors are advised to develop a financial plan with a trusted person, so that more than one adult child or one adult child and spouse are involved with their financial situation.
Estate planning and elder law attorneys can help with planning and strategies to prepare for these financial possibilities in a family. Financial and estate planning can provide answers to questions about how bills will be paid if the person becomes incapacitated, and address potential feelings of entitlement as well as the potential for discord among children.
These are admittedly tough topics and some families will no doubt encounter challenges when taking the bull by the horns, but it is better to get these issues out in the open and prepare for what may occur.
Preparing for all possible outcomes, from good health to incapacity, will give you peace of mind and lets your children know that you are ready for the eventualities of your later years. Your surviving spouse and family will be stronger for it.
Reference: TC Palm (FL) (December 14, 2016) “For seniors, financial scams may be closer than thought”