Losing a loved one is hard. Losing a member of your family, whether suddenly or after a protracted period of illness, can cause all kinds of hurt feelings (and ways of expressing those feelings) to rise up and make a bad situation just that much worse. If you are taking care of an elderly relative, and especially if you are managing their finances (and have something to gain if they pass), there are many factors that you have to take into consideration if you want to avoid allegations of elder abuse and the internal strife that can occur within a family during the grieving process. Some of the most important of these are detailed below:
Even if you are on good terms with the rest of your family, keeping records of everything is a good idea. Families that seem to get along great before a death can sometimes unexpectedly become vicious and cruel to each other once a relative passes. This is especially true when the person who passes away has assets of significant value, whether monetary or sentimental. Keeping copies of all financial transactions, bank statements, investments, purchases, etc. can create a powerful defense against anyone who might come after you with claims of financial elder abuse.
The last thing you want to do when it comes to dealing with relatives of the person under your care is to keep secrets. Be open and transparent about everything that you can legally be open and transparent about. Don't hide anything. If there are Estate Planning documents involved (and the person under your care is okay with sharing them,) make sure that they are shared appropriately. Ideally, the terms of any will or trust should be clear to everyone who stands to inherit from the estate in the event the person under your care passes on.
Meet Their Needs:
This should go without saying, but it is important to make sure that anyone under your care is well-fed and not neglected. We live busy lives, and being a caretaker, whether it is of your own relative, or the relative of another, is a full-time job. Our elders, especially those needing full-time care, are vulnerable and trusting, and if their trust in you results in them getting sick or emaciated, you can be in for some serious allegations of elder abuse.
Be Careful of Capacity:
If the person under your care is lacking in mental faculties, do not expect gifts from them that occur after a loss of mental capacity to be honored if a dispute arises. Even if the gifts are genuine and you are well-meaning in your caring for the elder individual, you can be slapped with allegations of elder abuse by relatives of the elder who may see you as a con-person taking advantage of their mentally-deficient loved one for financial gain.
Get an Estate Plan:
While a well-crafted estate plan is not an iron-clad guarantee that relatives won't get litigious after a death, it does lay out clear instructions and define clear powers. An estate plan created by a knowledgeable attorney can not only protect your assets from probate, it can also protect your estate from the disputes of heirs (whether well-meaning or otherwise) in the event of your demise. An estate without an estate plan is like a bundle of boards and nails without instructions. Anyone can choose to make just about anything out of it with the right tools and the right argument. Don't let that happen to your estate-- make a solid plan today.
Ready to get protected? Rayo Law Offices Can Help:
Call (925) 825-1955 or contact Zachary Rayo online to set up an appointment for an initial “meet and greet” consultation.