Financial elder abuse has become disturbingly common in America. Over the last ten years, incidences of financial elder abuse have increased 150%, and it is estimated that only one in every six cases of such abuse ever gets reported. Other statistics seem to indicate that every elderly person, or nearly so, has had a brush with someone trying to prey on them in their vulnerable state.
This is simply not acceptable. A person who works their whole lives to set aside enough assets to protect themselves through their golden years should not have to worry about losing it all to extortion, coercion or downright thievery. So, how do you protect yourself? You look for the most common warning signs from the most common sources of financial elder abuse (and, if you don't have an estate plan, consider contacting an experienced Estate Planning Attorney like Attorney Rayo to draft one for you.)
It's sad, but family, friends and caregivers are often the most common sources of financial elder abuse. In fact, there are reports which indicate that more than 90% of financial elder abuse is perpetrated by family, friends and caretakers of the abused elder. Whether because they typically have direct access to the elder or because they are trusted or relied upon by the elder is immaterial. Look for unaccounted for losses of money or property, unusual gifts of jewelry and other valuables, changed estate planning documents which favor one person over others, strange charges on cards and odd or missing checks.
Scams are another common source of financial elder abuse. Scams can take the form of sweepstakes or lottery scams that claim a person has won a sizeable amount of money, and that all they need to do to claim it is wire transfer money to pay the taxes owed on the reward. Money taken in this way is often taken out of the country, can be almost impossible to recover, and may even require you to take action against a banking institution or other financial entity that may have wrongfully assisted in the financial elder abuse. Medi-Cal Scams also fall under this category, and often involve charging elders unreasonable fees to "pre-qualify" them for Medi-Cal benefits.
Trust mills and unlicensed legal or financial advisors can be another dangerous source of financial elder abuse. These take many forms, and usually involve people claiming to be paralegals creating over-priced, "one size fits all" Trusts or Wills that can get an elder's assets into more trouble than if they had not gotten these documents crafted at all. Sometimes these "advisors" will even utilize the information they gain from the creation of these "one size fits all" documents to sell (or force the purchase of) an annuity or life insurance product. The biggest warning sign is if the "advisor" is trying to sell you a whole bunch of different products at once.
In the end, a solid estate plan crafted by a legal professional like Attorney Zachary Rayo of Rayo Law Offices can protect you and limit the effectiveness of some forms of financial elder abuse. Our estate plans contain not only a Revocable Trust, but also supporting documents like a Certification of Trust, a Declaration of Trust and a General Assignment of Property. Trust Transfer Deeds for real property are drafted by the attorney right here in the office, as are any Wills, Advance Health Care Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney. Attorney Rayo has been drafting estate plans for over ten years, and has experience in probate and trust litigation, giving him the perspective needed to make an estate plan as watertight as possible.
Ready to take action and get protected? Rayo Law Offices Can Help:
Call (925) 825-1955 or contact Rayo Law Offices online to set up an appointment for an initial “meet and greet” consultation.