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How to shield your family from financial elder abuse

While it’s not always the most pleasant topic, discussing finances with aging family members is crucial. They may be fine now, but it’s possible that as the years pass, they’ll need help managing their money to keep up with expenses and bills.

Plus, the unfortunate reality is that people become more vulnerable in old age. Scammers may target their money, but even close family members have been known to come after cash if they think it’s easy to get.

Want to avoid an ugly situation like this? Here’s what you can do about it:

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 otherwise unable to do so. So if your aging father fears that he’s going to reach a point where he’ll no longer be able to handle his finances for whatever reason, someone will need to do it for him; Power of Attorney is a way to legalize this transfer of power.

Whoever signs the Power of Attorney should be trustworthy and responsible. Not only are they in charge of their own finances, they now have to oversee someone else’s as well.

Communicate with your family
In order to ensure that the elder members’ assets are managed properly, talk to them about it (if they’re able). Get clarification on what they want done with their money. You should also involve your other relevant family members as well and establish a plan together. Make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid disputes later on. Even after the initial plan is created, keep them in the loop as time goes on.

Watch for scams
Even if aging family members are in good health, they’re still at risk for elder scams. The elderly are popular targets for criminals who think they can take advantage of vulnerable, sweet or overly trusting people. It’s important then for you to help keep an eye on how they spend their money. Advise them not to give anything to strangers who may call, write or email asking for help or demanding the repayment of a supposed debt.

For additional resources, check out our article on common elder scams that you can share with your family.

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