Protecting the Elderly from Financial Abuse
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), “Financial exploitation occurs when a person misuses or takes the assets of a vulnerable adult for his/her own personal benefit. This frequently occurs without the explicit knowledge or consent of a senior or disabled adult, depriving him/her of vital financial resources for his/her personal needs.”
Unfortunately, this type of elderly abuse often happens within families. A spouse, children, grandchildren, distant relatives or a caregiver can manipulate an elderly person into bankrolling their finances – even when excessive funds do not exist. To keep the family peace, the elderly person may keep the full extent of this abuse silent. In most cases, only one or two people are to blame for such upsetting acts and the rest of the family is left wondering how to remedy the situation.
Durable Power of Attorney
One way to protect the assets of an elderly family member is to have the person sign a durable power of attorney appointing a trusted family member or friend to serve as agent. The agent would be in charge of handling all financial matters on behalf of the older adult. By a separate document, this person can also be given the responsibility of making health care decisions.
The agent should be a trusted family member or friend who possesses the right ethics to make decisions based on the elderly person’s best interests – not in the agent’s own interests. The agent should keep accurate records of all transactions and be willing to share that information with other family members. It is recommended that the family work together, if possible, to identify the best person for this important role.
Keep in mind that it is also not uncommon for the selected power of attorney to be the person who is mistreating the elderly person’s funds. That’s why the selection process is so important and that the selection be done before there is a crisis situation.
According to NAPSA, it has been reported “1 in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past.” Take steps to make sure the older adults in your life do not have to endure such stress.
At The Brown Law Firm LLC, we can help you to identify a suitable agent under power of attorney and prepare a power of attorney in Denver. Our probate litigation attorneys can also assist if the agent under financial power of attorney is misusing the power of attorney. Contact us today to learn more about your options.