One of the most pressing elder law issues at the current time is that of elder financial abuse. It can be hard to imagine a time when you would be able to keep tabs on your affairs and detect threats, but things can change when you get older.
Clearly, this is not a very pleasant subject to contemplate, but it is wise to meet it head on so that you can take the right steps to protect yourself. Even if you are always safe and sound on this level, there is nothing lost if you put the necessary safeguards in place.
As you are trying to decide whether or not preventative measures are necessary, you would do well to absorb some eye-opening facts about aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Most people expect to be around long enough to collect their full Social Security benefit. The age of eligibility is between 66 and 67 at the present time depending on your year of birth. Once you reach the age of 67, your life expectancy is 85 years if you are a man, and it is 87 years for a woman.
This in and of itself sheds some light on what the future may hold in a general sense, but it is very relevant when it comes to Alzheimer’s. Approximately 40% of individuals that are 85 years of age and older have contracted the disease, and Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of cognitive impairment.
In many instances, the inability to make sound decisions will creep up gradually. You may be vulnerable to instances of elder financial abuse before you become completely and obviously incapacitated.
Elder Financial Exploitation Is Widespread
It is impossible for experts to get a firm handle on the extent of the problem of elder financial abuse, because it is been estimated that only one out of every 25 cases are ever reported.
Why would this be the case?
Sadly, in many instances, the abusers are people that are known to the victims, and they do not tell anyone because they do not want to get the perpetrators into trouble.
Another reason is because they don’t want to lose the care that they are receiving from the abusers. There are also people that are not aware of the fact that they are being exploited financially.
Several years ago, MetLife estimated annual losses at right around $3 billion a year, but a subsequent study came up with a figure that blows that out of the water. True Link Financial research placed the losses at a mind boggling $36.5 billion annually.
Protect Yourself in Advance
There are legal steps that can be taken to minimize your vulnerability to this horrible crime. It is possible to convey assets into a living trust and empower a disability trustee to act as the administrator if you ever become unable to manage your own financial affairs effectively.
You can execute a durable power of attorney for property to name someone to manage assets that are not held by a trust. In fact, you could use a springing durable power of attorney that would only become effective if you do in fact become incapacitated.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We would be more than glad to answer any questions that you have about elder abuse and any other elder law or estate planning concerns. Our attorneys know that it can be hard to discuss these matters with someone that you have just met, but you can rest assured that everyone here will put you at ease from the start.
You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we will get back in touch with you promptly. If you would rather reach out over the telephone, our number in Vermont is 802-879-7133.