As the number of vulnerable adults increases each year, the prospects for elder abuse and exploitation increases with it. Our office has witnessed a spike in the number of cases involving vulnerable adults in the past year, and we anticipate that number to continue to climb as the children of this population begin to recognize the need.
The New York Times recently reported on the growing risk of financial abuse on older people; and although the numbers of vulnerable adults may be rising, diligence and planning can protect your loved ones from such abuses. Here are three steps to take to protect those closest to you:
Create an Estate Plan
An estate plan can eliminate many issues that are presented that necessitate an adult guardianship. When a proper estate plan exists someone has been identified to preserve, protect, and manage the financial resources of the adult person. There is also a continuity of management that comes with a trust that is not found with a will, or a simple power-of-attorney. Therefore the first step in protecting your loved one is to insure they have a proper estate plan as early as possible. That starts with a conversation about the topic. If you need help developing a strategy for having this conversation with a loved one in your family, please call us to discuss ways in which we've helped clients successfully navigate this conversation.
Stay in Touch
The advice to "Call your mom," isn't just for conversation purposes, but is an important protection to insure someone is staying in regular contact with your senior loved one. Many elder exploitation cases are the product of a loved one not having a trusted person checking in on them regularly. When talking to your senior loved one, make sure to ask about anything new that may be happening in their life and be on the lookout for new names mentioned, new business ventures they are involved in, or efforts your loved one has made to support a new cause. These can often serve as warning signs that your loved one may be targeted for abuse. Follow your gut when asking about anything that peaks your curiosity along these lines and make sure to investigate accordingly.
When you believe your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, or is vulnerable to such activities, act swiftly to protect them. Contact an attorney with experience in litigating adult guardianship cases, and insist they make every effort to take action that same week. Property, including money, is often difficult to recover once it has been fraudulently obtained by the perpetrator. Additionally, talking to an attorney about protecting your loved ones will provide peace of mind to you and your family that your senior loved ones will be protected.
Smith Simmons provides legal services for families in the area of estate planning, adult guardianships, and elder litigation matters. If we can provide peace of mind to you and your loved ones please contact us today. We love helping families gain peace during difficult times.