Danielle Mayoras was recently quoted in this interesting article by the Detroit Free Press about the growing epidemic of exploitation of the elderly. It discussed a very sad case where a daughter took hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly mother and now is in jail saying the money is gone and she can’t return it.
This is one example of how more and more families are facing the devastation caused by exploitation of elderly loved ones, often by a family member or caregiver.
So how do families protect their golden seniors, whose lifetime of savings can often be a tempting target for desperate or unethical people? There are no magic answers, but here are a few Trial & Heirs Tips that we provided to the Detroit Free Press which ran next to the newspaper story:
1. Get expert advice. Consider consulting an estate lawyer who will know the ins and outs of estate planning. It’s usually money well spent.
2. Beware of Joint Accounts. When you add someone else’s name to your accounts, they usually can remove money even without a durable power of attorney.
3. Consider a “Springing” Power of Attorney. Your attorney can draft the Power of Attorney so that it only takes effect when you are found to be incompetent.
4. Choose Wisely. You should designate individuals to act on your behalf that you trust the most, not merely the oldest child or the closest relative.
5. Have Checks and Balances. Talk with your attorney about designating more than one person, but to avoid fights consider having a tie-breaker or majority vote.
6. Select Someone to Monitor your Accounts.You can give another family member, or even a trusted advisor, the ability to monitor your accounts, such as internet banking, to make sure that your assets are protected.
Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras & Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders and shareholders of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. Andrew & Danielle are husband and wife attorneys.