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How to Protect Yourself from Elder Fraud

It is not uncommon for people to offer to assist older family members with their finances or guide them through the process of estate planning. Unfortunately, however, not all people who become involved in older individuals’ affairs have good intentions, and many elderly people fall victim to elder fraud. As such, it is important for aging individuals to know what measures they can take to protect themselves. If you have concerns that you are being taken advantage of financially or need assistance with another estate planning issue, it is prudent to speak to a trusted estate planning lawyer about your rights. 

How to Protect Yourself from Elder Fraud 

While many seniors are concerned about being taken advantage of financially, there are multiple tactics people can employ to avoid elder fraud. First, it is important for people to understand the factors that place them at risk for elder fraud, like advanced age, health issues, and cognitive decline. Many people fall prey to elder fraud simply because they are lonely or isolated; as such, regularly interacting with a variety of family and friends can offer protection to older people.  

It is also critical that people understand their rights and stand their ground when faced with pressure to make decisions they are not comfortable with. For example, people often try to persuade older individuals to transfer property rights. While there are a variety of reasons a person may choose to grant someone else the deed to their home, they should not be forced to make that decision and should speak to an estate planning attorney and financial advisor prior to signing any documents. Similarly, people often try to coerce older family members into opening joint bank accounts; while there may be benefits to doing so, it is not a decision that should be made without careful consideration of the person’s motives and an assessment of other options for providing financial protection.   

People can also guard themselves against elder fraud by involving trusted and impartial professionals in their financial affairs. People who work in the estate planning or financial industry may be better suited to identify fraudulent schemes or activities and as their oversight may help to avoid financial abuse. 

Many estate planning tools can also help avoid the consequences of unsavory conduct. For example, placing property in a revocable trust and naming a corporate entity as trustee, or granting another individual power of attorney are safeguards that can help prevent older individuals from being exploited. There are numerous regulations corporate trustees must adhere to, making the likelihood of elder fraud low. Similarly, granting someone power of attorney over financial affairs can provide protection from elder abuse in the event a person becomes incapacitated. 

Meet with an Experienced  Estate Planning Attorney 

Elder fraud can cause lasting financial and emotional harm, and it is critical for people to understand how they can protect themselves from deceptive tactics. If you need help protecting your assets or developing an estate plan, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation. 

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