June is National Elder Abuse Awareness month and is a great time to talk with your family members about their future plans. While it’s not the most pleasant topic, discussing finances with aging family members is crucial. As the years pass, your loved ones may need help managing their money and keeping their assets secure. Scammers may target their money, but close family members can also take advantage of an elderly relative for financial gain. Learn about three actions you can take to help protect your aging family members from financial elder abuse.
DISCUSS A POWER OF ATTORNEY
Power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint a person to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to do so yourself. If your aging family member fears they will reach a point where they can no longer handle their finances, someone will need to do it for them – power of attorney is a way to legalize this transfer of power. Whoever signs the power of attorney document should be trustworthy and responsible. Not only are they in charge of their own finances, they will oversee someone else’s finances as well.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FAMILY
To ensure that your elder family members’ assets are managed properly, talk to them about it, if they are able. Get clarification on what they want done with their money when they feel they will no longer be able to manage it themselves. You should also involve your other relevant family members in the conversation and create a plan together. Even after the initial plan is created, keep them informed as time passes to avoid disputes later on.
WATCH FOR SCAMS
Even if your aging family members are in good health, they are still at risk for scams. The elderly are popular targets for criminals who often times take advantage of vulnerable or overly trusting people. It’s important for you to help them keep track of how they spend their money. Advise them to not give out money or personal information to strangers who may call, write, or email asking for help or demanding the repayment of a fictious debt.
The unfortunate reality is that some people become more vulnerable as they age. However, by becoming more educated on financial elder abuse and learning more about the warning signs, you can be proactive in ensuring your aging family member’s finances don’t fall into the wrong hands. Visit slfcu.org/Balance for more resources.
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