The elderly population in the United States is particularly vulnerable to financial abuse by family members, friends and investment advisors.
Here are 4 practical ways to limit financial abuse against our elderly population:
1) DECLARATION OF INCOMPETENCY: If your elderly family member is staying in a nursing home or other similar facility, and you believe they lack the mental capacity to handle their own financial affairs, speak to an estate planning attorney about the proper way to have them declared mentally incompetent. Once you have the proper documentation demonstrating your relative’s incompetency, email a copy of that declaration to the administrator in charge of the facility so you have it on file that your relative is not in a position to be signing financial documents.
2) REGULAR REVIEW OF THEIR FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS: Before your relative starts experiencing dementia or other similar problems, sit down with them and make a list of all of their investment accounts, bank accounts, etc. As those documents arrive in the mail, review them regularly for any suspicious transactions.
3) ASK QUESTIONS: When you are visiting your relative, find out if they have had any recent visitors. If someone’s name does not ring a bell, follow up and figure out if that person is a legitimate visitor with their best interests in mind.
4) SPEAK WITH LEGAL COUNSEL: If you have done your due diligence but still have questions about the propriety of various financial transactions in your relative’s accounts, speak with an attorney who handles financial abuse of the elderly so they can review the documents for financial irregularities.
If you or your family member have been the victim of financial abuse, you should contact an attorney immediately to determine your/their legal rights.
*DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not legal advice, as each situation is dependent upon the facts and circumstances at hand, and any action should be taken only after consulting with an attorney.