About one quarter of elderly Americans rely on their children or other family members to help make decisions about their finances. California financial elder abuse attorneys say that this can be quite complicated, and offer a number of tips for helping your parent or other elderly relative with their finances.
First, plan before there is an emergency, and be proactive. Even mild impairment can lead to someone making poor financial decisions or falling for a scam, so be extremely aware of signs that your parent may be losing their ability to manage their own finances. Once you sit down with your parent or relative to discuss finances, find out where they bank, what their SSN is, the types of accounts (bank and investments) and types of insurance policies that they have, and who the beneficiaries are in their will. You also want to find out where their income is coming from—whether that be Social Security, a pension, etc. You should also find out if they have stockbrokers, mortgage companies, or attorneys.
One major decision, say California financial elder abuse attorneys, is whether to make someone power of attorney (and if so, who). It should be someone who is able to understand their fiduciary duty. In some cases, people will make multiple people power of attorney in order to have checks and balances. Seek legal advice on POA, as every state has its own laws. Additional decisions regarding the power of attorney must be made as well (for example, whether they are able to give gifts on the person’s behalf, change beneficiaries of insurance policies, etc).
As a last resort, if a parent or other relative is already not competent and does not have POA set up, you can consider filing for guardianship. There must be a documented and proven disability that impairs their ability to manage their affairs. Sometimes a guardian is a third party professional, but more often it is a family member. Loved ones must also determine whether a guardian should be paid.
A few resources that financial elder abuse attorneys recommend include:
-Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guides- They offer a free guide to guardianship that will help walk a new guardian through his or her responsibilities.
-To determine if your parent or elderly relative is eligible for any employer or government benefits that they may be missing out on, check The National Council on Aging. They offer a benefits checkup at www.benefitscheckup.org. It will put you through a series of questions and it will help flag what benefits your parent might not yet be receiving but might be eligible for. Local area agencies on aging are also helpful for this.
-Online banking is a useful resource if you do not live near your parent, and need to help manage their finances.
Evans Law Firm, Inc. handles financial elder abuse lawsuits, including financial fraud and power of attorney fraud cases. If you or a loved one has been a victim of financial elder abuse, please contact Evans Law Firm, Inc. at 415-441-8669 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.