Preventing Elder Exploitation with an Estate Plan

Elderly people are highly vulnerable to financial exploitation. This is because cognitive impairment often diminishes the ability of older adults to make sound financial decisions and to detect scams. Florida, with its large senior population, is a hotbed of elder exploitation. In this article, we examine the ways in which an estate plan can help prevent elder exploitation.

Elder Exploitation in Florida

Elder exploitation occurs when someone wrongfully and knowingly appropriates the property of a person who is over 60 years of age. Common examples of elder exploitation include:

  • exploitation by a fiduciary,
  • theft of property or money,
  • investment scams or fraud,
  • sweepstakes and lottery scams,
  • tax and debt collection scams,
  • telemarketing scams,
  • internet scams, and
  • home improvement scams.

How an Estate Plan Can Help

As noted above, proper estate planning can help prevent the exploitation of elders. Two common estate planning documents that can help prevent elder exploitation are the revocable living trust and durable power of attorney.

A revocable living trust is a type of trust that can be changed over time. This type of trust can make it difficult for strangers to access an elderly person’s trust account. Assets in a revocable living trust are held in the name of the trust, not in the name of an individual. This provides a line of protection against scammers and potential exploiters.

A durable power of attorney gives a person or persons permission to make financial and legal decisions on an elderly person’s behalf should he or she ever become incapacitated. This is important because incapacitated individuals are often the victims of elder exploitation.

Minimizing the Risk of Elder Exploitation

In order to minimize the risk of elder exploitation, it’s important to choose the right person to act as an agent under a power of attorney or similar estate planning document. In order to choose the right person:

  • Only choose someone who is trustworthy.
  • Don’t choose someone who mismanages his or her own money or has problems with gambling or substance abuse.
  • Tell family, friends, and financial advisors about the power of attorney.
  • Avoid appointing paid helpers or hired caregivers.

Contact an Experienced Florida and New York Estate Planning Attorney

Whether you live in Florida, New York, or are a snowbird who lives in both states, you need an experienced Florida and New York estate planning attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, we provide comprehensive estate planning services to clients in New York and Florida. Attorney Angela Siegel is an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney, and she regularly helps clients in Florida and New York navigate the estate planning process. So, if you are ready to begin the estate planning process in Florida or New York, please contact us as soon as possible to arrange a free and confidential initial consultation.