Parents will tell you, their kids will take care of them. If you pose the same question to their children….you might get a different answer. Making that process more efficient and understood should be a concern of all aging parents. Not only will this make it easier for your children, it can protect when and if you start to lose capacity due to illness or age.
What to Do?
1. Acknowledge the risk. Most of us have a tough time imagining being old, vulnerable, gullible or cognitively impaired, so we just don't prepare for it. Get over it and address it now. Sticking your head in the sand is not a strategy. It is a recipe for problems down the road.
2. Have Conversations. Talk to family members and close friends and have “what if” and “planning ahead” conversations. Let people know your wishes and desires, where you would like your money to go and what you want it to do. Knowing your intentions may help them spot when those plans go awry and to stop financial abuse.
3. Give up Autonomy. Be prepared to let others periodically review your financial activity, and allowing them to override you if you are making a bad decision. You can include professional advisors and if you are comfortable, your children.
4. Simplify. Reduce the number of accounts you need to oversee and review them regularly.
5. Give Authorization. You can ask your financial institution to contact one or two trust individuals in case of suspicious financial activity.
6. Take the Time to Learn. Do your homework and learn about the most common ways adults are scammed by strangers.
7. Plan for Long Term Care. Most do not have Long Term Care insurance and most cannot afford to self-insure if long term care becomes an issue. Walking out into the desert and other forms of taking your own life is what we most often hear as the solution. This is just more head in the sand stuff. There are steps you can take and the sooner, the better. And…putting your kids on the house and bank accounts is probably one of the worst ideas.
8. Create a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. Select someone to act as your financial power of attorney should you lose cognitive functions. You should also seriously consider using a trust for your estate plan. It may be the best way to deal with incapacity and at the same time avoid probate.
9. Talk to an experienced Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney. An attorney with years of experience in the Elder Law area can help advice you on the best way to protect yourself or a loved one.
Poulos Law Firm has over 30 years of experience in estate planning and elder law. Please feel free to reach out to us and let us help you protect yourself, or a loved one, from financial abuse.