Most people are familiar with elder abuse, which involves physically or emotionally harming a senior citizen. Less commonly understood, however, is the illicit practice of elder exploitation. As opposed to mental and physical types of abuse, elder exploitation is of a financial nature. Specifically, elder exploitation is the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, improper, or unauthorized use of the resources of a senior citizen for personal profit or gain. This term can also include actions that deprive a senior citizen of the resources, benefits, belongings, or assets to which they are entitled. Fortunately, elder exploitation can be prevented by proper estate planning. In this article, we examine how estate planning can help prevent elder exploitation.
Estate Planning Tools to Prevent Elder Exploitation
The primary estate planning tools available to prevent elder exploitation are the revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, and designation of a pre-need guardian.
Revocable Living Trust: A revocable living trust is one option for preventing elder exploitation. The creation of a living trust provides a line of protection against would-be exploiters because the assets are owned by the trust, not in the name of the senior citizen.
Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney names someone to help make financial and legal decisions on behalf of a senior citizen, particularly one who doesn’t have the capacity to do so himself or herself.
Pre-Need Guardian Designation: An additional tool that can help prevent elder exploitation is the designation of a pre-need guardian. Such a designation names a person the senior would want as his or her guardian in the event that the senior is being exploited and has capacity issues.
Choosing the Right Fiduciaries
In order to effectively prevent elder exploitation, it is necessary to pick the right fiduciaries. Below are some tips for choosing the right person or persons to name as a successor trustee, power of attorney, and health care surrogate.
Choose someone trustworthy: When creating an estate plan to prevent elder exploitation, it is necessary to only choose trustworthy fiduciaries. In addition, it is advisable to require in the power of attorney that the chosen fiduciaries regularly report to another trusted person regarding all financial transactions
made on the senior’s behalf.
Avoid people with certain types of problems: When choosing a fiduciary, people who mismanage money or have problems with gambling or substance abuse should be avoided.
Avoid appointing paid helpers as fiduciaries: Finally, paid helpers, such as caregivers, should be avoided when choosing a fiduciary. While many paid helpers do a great job and are trustworthy, there are many instances of such individuals using their positions to take advantage of seniors financially.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
If you are ready to begin the estate planning process, our experienced Florida and New York estate planning attorney is here for you. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, attorney Angela Siegel uses her extensive legal knowledge and experience to provide exceptional estate planning services to the residents of both Florida and New York. When you come to us for estate planning assistance, Ms. Siegel will work with you to create an estate plan that ensures you and your family are protected for years to come. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our talented estate planning lawyer.