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Helping People Age with Dignity

Using estate planning for elder financial abuse protection

As a person gets older, they may become increasingly vulnerable to financial abuse. Elder financial abuse perpetrators come in all shapes and sizes. They could be family members, friends, neighbors, people who work with or around an elderly individual or strangers.

The dangers of elder financial abuse are among the many reasons why not delaying on getting a proper estate plan in place is so important. There are certain ways estate planning can help with elder financial abuse protection. If a person delays in setting up their estate plan or doesn't take care to make good preparations when it comes to their estate plan, they may not have such added protections in place by the time their risk for financial abuse becomes particularly high.

One estate-planning-related action that can help with elder financial abuse prevention is having a clear plan in place regarding what is to happen regarding control of one's finances if one's financial management abilities start to slip. This can prevent confusion or delays occurring when it comes time for some financial control to be transferred away. This is important, as such delays or confusion could create opportunities for those looking to commit elder financial exploitation.

Estate planning devices can also create some extra safeguards for assets. For example, when a trust is put in place, the trusts' terms can put restrictions on how assets in the trust can be distributed and for what purposes distributions can occur. Such extra asset safeguards could help reduce the likelihood of the assets being taken away by an elder financial abuse perpetrator.

An estate-planning-related preparation that can be particularly important in elder financial abuse prevention is thinking very carefully when picking who to name for important roles in one's estate plan, such as the trustee of a trust or the person who will hold power of attorney. Being given these roles could give a person some major access to certain assets, so it is very important to pick individuals for the roles who would not be prone to abusing this access.

Individuals concerned about the possibility of facing elder financial abuse in the future should talk with an elder law attorney about what elder financial abuse prevention steps would be good fits for their estate plan.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "How to Protect Your Loved Ones (and Yourself) From Financial Elder Abuse," Kimberly Palmer, Jan. 26, 2016

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