Preventing financial abuse of seniors: My little Johnny would never do anything to harm me!

Author:Bonora, Doris

There is something very sad about reaching your golden years, thinking that you will enjoy golf, grandchildren and giving sage advice, but instead, you are faced with abuse by those you trusted the most. Financial abuse of seniors by family members is becoming common and creates great family discord. There are steps to take to prevent financial abuse by little Johnny.

It is important to have an Enduring Power of Attorney in order to appoint a person to take care of your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. Without an enduring power of attorney you are vulnerable and there is no one to protect you when you are ill. Whether the incapacity results from a short term condition or is permanent, the enduring power of attorney provides a seamless transition to allow a trusted relative or friend to pay bills, file tax returns and generally make and carry out all financial matters. The enduring power of attorney also allows access to information. In our current system, privacy is protected. When your mom is ill and you want to make sure her utilities are paid, you will not be able to access even information about her utility payments if she has not done an enduring power of attorney.

While the enduring power of attorney is easy and so useful, it also is an easy tool for a rogue to financially abuse a senior. Unfortunately, the rogue may come in the form of sons and daughters and other relatives who were trusted and yet, when put in power, suddenly help themselves to the senior's finances. It is an abuse of trust by that little Johnny.

When preparing an enduring power of attorney, the first and most important decision will be who to appoint as your "attorney." Who is the person that you trust to manage all your financial affairs? If you are married or have an adult interdependent partner or common law spouse, you will likely appoint that person to be the primary attorney. But, even this decision requires consideration. If you are in a second marriage and do not share your finances, it might be useful and best to appoint another trusted advisor or person to manage finances either with your spouse or...

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