The National Adult Protective Services Association finds financial exploitation is the fastest growing form of elder abuse and adults with disabilities. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an opportunity to take steps to help protect the assets of the senior in your life.
Spot the early warning signs
Check in with your loved one as often as possible. If your senior is somewhat tech savvy, they can learn to participate in online chats and text messaging. Isolation is a common tactic used against aging seniors. So the absence of family interaction may allow strangers to step in and befriend a senior for financial gain. So, pay attention to any personality changes during regular check-ins. If it’s gotten harder to reach mom or dad, it’s time to investigate. Don’t ignore a significant warning sign.
Another red flag could be a change in routine such as unpaid bills, even when money is available. Also, a refusal to let you view financial statements and last-minute changes to a will may also be signs of financial exploitation.
Lastly, if your loved one is getting older and can’t seem to remember what’s happening with his or her finances, consider getting them a medical check-up.
Get the proper documents in place
Talk to your parent about their estate plan. The plan should include a durable power of attorney. This allows your loved one to give a trusted friend or family member the legal right to pay bills or manage their finances on behalf of the senior if they’re unable.
Ideally, there should be two trusted family members (e.g. sister and brother) who can make important decisions on behalf of the senior. Not only does this approach offer consistent coverage, if one is unavailable, but it also offers a level of checks and balances. Plus, having an active family presence will make it harder for thieves to transfer funds or property away from the senior.
Your bank or credit union can help you with the necessary documents. In addition, the branch manager may be able to spot issues right away.
Finally, if you think your loved one is the target of financial fraud, report it immediately to the N.C. Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 877.5.NO.SCAM.
Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union.
The advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact your financial advisor for additional guidance.