One recent study found that elder financial abuse leads to a range of $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion in losses every year. Furthermore, financial abuse can come from a variety of places, including family, staff, caretakers, and complete strangers. As a result, it’s important to protect yourself and the assets that you’ve worked hard to accumulate. Estate planning is one way to help guard yourself against elder exploitation.
What Is Elder Financial Exploitation?
Financial exploitation includes illegal, unauthorized, or fraudulent actions that involve taking resources from an elder and using them for their own gain or actions that can lead to depriving an elder adult of assets, benefits, or other resources to which they are entitled. Maryland has a special coalition of 16 different organizations called Project SAFE designed to help prevent and detect elder financial exploitation.
What Can Elder Financial Exploitation Look Like?
When many people think about elder financial abuse, they think about outright stealing money or things from the home. However, it includes a broad variety of things, including:
- Grandparent scams
- Tax or debt collection scams
- Internet scams
- Theft of property or money
- Investment scams or fraud
- Lottery scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Contractor scams
While estate planning cannot protect you against all of these things, it can help to increase your protection.
Create a Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust is a key part of estate planning for many people, and it will make it more challenging for people to access your assets. Because things placed in the trust are owned by the trust and not you, it can put more of a separation and wall between you and those assets. While this won’t deter everyone from making an attempt to scam you or take advantage of you, it makes things much more challenging.
Choose Your Fiduciaries Carefully
One of the biggest ways that estate planning can help protect you against exploitation is through choosing fiduciaries that will ensure your will is properly carried out in the event that you are incapacitated or no longer here. When choosing a fiduciary or someone to serve as your power of attorney or trustee:
- Consider having someone that your agent regularly reports to so that there is another person looking through your financial transactions
- Avoid appointing anyone who has had financial problems in the past or who currently has financial instability
- Work with an attorney to ensure that all of your financial advisers and institutions know who your POA is
- Avoid naming a paid helper or caregiver who is being compensated as your power of attorney
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Estate Planning Needs
When you want to protect yourself against exploitation as you get older or want to get a head start on your estate planning, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.