Especially in the digital age, financial elder abuse is a major concern for seniors and their families. The annual financial loss suffered by victims of elder financial exploitation is estimated to exceed $2.9 billion. It is important to take steps early and often to protect yourself and your loved ones against financial exploitation.
As when you or your loved one created your estate plan, communication continues to be key. A recent study found that seniors who regularly talk with friends or family about their finances feel they are better equipped to avoid financial elder abuse. These seniors were more likely to reach out to a professional or family member when concerns arose, and to take preventative actions, including regularly checking their bank and financial statements, shredding sensitive documents, and not signing documents they don’t completely understand. You may find it helpful to create a written checklist to prevent abuse. Potential list items might include calling your designated financial adviser before signing financial documents and reminders to check credit card statements and bank accounts on a weekly basis.
You or your loved one should know that it is always OK to ask questions. Just as with medical care, it is often a good idea to get a second opinion. If working with an aging relative, make your intent clear. It isn’t that you want to prevent them from taking an active role in their wealth management. You do, however, want to empower them to make wise financial decision that work well with the estate plan they’ve already established. A second opinion can help with that.
Being aware of common scams is another way to protect yourself or loved one against them. Financial scams can come in all shapes and sizes, but as a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are a few common scenarios to be aware of:
As we emphasized above, you or your loved one should always feel comfortable asking for time to consult family, an attorney, or your financial advisor. Feeling pressured to make a decision on-the-spot is a red flag for fraud.
Finally, one of your greatest protections against financial exploitation is a comprehensive, well-drafted estate plan. For example, a Power of Attorney can be helpful by allowing you or your loved one to share financial decision making. Likewise, if your loved one is suffering from an illness and struggles to care for themselves, a guardianship or conservatorship may be necessary to ensure their financial security.
An experienced, Maryland elder law attorney is your best partner in creating the financial protection plan that’s right for your family. For more than 20 years, the Maryland elder law attorney at Altman and Associates have helped families protect their loved ones against financial abuse and exploitation while preserving their wishes. We have a proven reputation for providing honest, straightforward legal advice for Maryland families. Our offices are conveniently located in the Rockville, Bethesda area and in Columbia, Maryland. Call us toll-free at 301-468-3220 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.