10 Steps to Protect Your Loved Ones From Elder Fraud Abuse

April 21, 2020 | Trusts & Estates

We have an elder fraud epidemic in this country. By one estimate, one in 10 people in the United States over the age of 65 falls victim to financial fraud every year. Telephone scams, caretaker abuse and contractor fraud are just three of the most common forms of this exploitation. As baby boomers grow older, and medical advances allow us to live longer, this problem will only escalate unless steps are taken to stop it. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has emboldened even more fraudsters.

Here are 10 steps to create a legal safety net for seniors:

  1. Alert seniors and their loved ones to the potential for fraud and abuse and inform them various ways to protect themselves from these dangers.
  2. Put together team of key family members and trusted advisors such as an estate planning/elder law attorney, certified public accountant, financial planner and insurance advisor, each of whom, if each provided with enough of the client’s financial information, could allow them to ring the alarm should they notice suspicious activity or potential abuse.
  3. Insist that financial professionals restrict distributions from accounts if they have a reason to believe that the account owner is being subjected to financial exploitation. New federal laws expressly permit placing a temporary hold on disbursements from accounts of customers who are believed to be at risk.
  4. Consolidate financial accounts at fewer institutions, making identifying suspicious withdrawals more likely.
  5. Set up automatic payment of routine monthly bills, reducing the number of bills and checks that arrive by mail, thus, leaving less information for unscrupulous people to exploit.
  6. Automate financial transactions to reduce the amount of effort necessary to pay bills and make deposits, allowing more time to identify and stop inappropriate charges made by third.
  7. Update revocable living trusts to allow the naming of co-trustee with broad or limited powers as needed.
  8. Provide a trusted family member or key advisor with duplicate copies of monthly bank and investment statements for review.
  9. Revoke older Powers of Attorneys that may give unwanted people control over a senior’s financial affairs.
  10. Create new Powers of Attorney to allow for multiple agents, appointment of a monitor to oversee an agent’s activities, or limit an agent’s power over certain accounts or activities- or all 3!
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