In approximately forty years, 1 in 10 Americans will be 65 or older. Financial elder abuse rates are increasing proportionately with the aging population; these crimes will cause the loss of almost $3 billion this year alone.
How can you protect the assets of elderly family members? Look for warning signs. If you notice that an elderly relative or friend is receiving late payment or no payment notices, bills are piling up, or an eviction process is starting, check to see if someone is taking advantage of their finances. The most effective planning helps to prevent problems before they happen. Our Chapel Hill elder law attorneys
explain options available to seniors and how younger individuals can plan ahead to prevent losses as they age:
Revocable Living Trusts. Seniors use trusts to protect assets for many reasons. Holding property in trust not only avoids the costs and delay of probate, but also allows ease of management of such property in the event of incapacity.
Irrevocable Trusts. Establishing and funding irrevocable trusts with assets may also help preserve eligibility for Medicaid. (Read about Medicaid Trusts.) Also, should an abuser try to coerce the elder into signing over ownership rights, an irrevocable trust guards against this, as it is actually the trustee who legally controls the property.
Powers of attorney. Durable powers of attorney allow one individual to appoint another with the authority to make important financial decisions on their behalf, including account management and bill paying.
Online scams are increasing, attempting to acquire sensitive personal information through fake emails and websites. In 2007, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received 4,625 complaints from North Carolina and reported losses of over $3.6 million. Individuals 50 and older comprised approximately 27% of the cases reported.
Financial exploitation of seniors doesn’t necessarily happen as a result of a fraudulent company or stranger to the family. Family members may be guilty of misusing an elderly person’s credit cards or bank accounts. (Some banks are offering services that monitor activity and alert account holders and designated persons when possible financial abuse
Chapel Hill Elder Law Attorney Kristin Burrows
Chapel Hill Estate Planning Attorney Gregory Herman-Giddens
TrustCounsel’s Chapel Hill estate planning and elder law attorneys Gregory Herman-Giddens and Kristin Burrows present “A Lawyer’s Perspective: Financial and Legal Strategies and Planning, and Assistance Paying for Long-Term Care” at the Senior Center in Pittsboro, North Carolina on March 4, 2014. The workshop is coordinated by the Chatham County Council on Aging.