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How Seniors Can Avoid Legal Fraud through Estate Planning

Did you know that elderly abuse costs the US $36.5 billion annually, according to the National Council on Aging? An elder law attorney in Los Angeles can protect them from maltreatment.

Moreover, according to estimates, one in 10 Americans aged 60+ years will be victimized financially, physically, emotionally, sexually, or through willful deprivation. It means that at least five million elders are abused each year in the US.

How Your Estate Plan Can Help Prevent Elder Exploitation

Through thorough estate planning, law attorneys help prevent all forms of financial abuse. This is important because financial abuse is among the fastest-growing types of elderly abuse. It relies largely on fraudsters earning their trust and then fleecing them for everything they've got. 

Another type of fraud or abuse also includes long-term neglect, This usually occurs when a fraudster or scammer insinuates themselves into the elderly person's life, perhaps even marrying them, and then living on their pension or social security while intentionally depriving the person of food and sanitation, etc. 

5 Ways to Prevent Elder Financial Exploitation

1. Appoint Someone to be a Durable Financial Power of Attorney

The difference between a financial power of attorney and a durable power of attorney is the power they have after incapacitation. 

A non-durable financial power of attorney is only able to act on behalf of the older person until they become incapacitated. A durable financial attorney continues to make financial decisions and act on behalf of the person beyond incapacitation. 

An elder care attorney in Los Angeles ensures that the finances and financial transactions are managed no matter how the older person became incapacitated. In this way, durable financial powers of attorney can still protect the elderly from estate planning fraud and grandparent scams.

2. Use a Tracking Service for Bank Accounts, Investments, and Credit Cards

There are tracking tools that monitor the accounts and identify suspicious movements, for example, an increase in the number and value of withdrawals.

EverSafe is one of the monitoring service providers. It provides a comprehensive service that includes analyzing historical behavior to red-flag suspicious activity. 

Once it detects anomalies, it sends alerts to trusted advocates like friends or family, who can then decide on a course of action; for example, reporting the activity to the financial institution and freezing the account.

Monitoring tools pick up common warning signs and any other activities of a wrongful nature.

3. Open a Daily-Use Bank Account

A California elder law attorney will help you open a new account. It's a good way to protect older people with cognitive impairment, reckless spending habits, or other conditions that increase their vulnerability to fraudsters. The main account contains most of the income to cover monthly transactions, but a portion is deposited in the second bank account for personal use.

It's essentially an allowance that can, with discretion, be topped up throughout the month. It prevents prime targets from common tactics that include investment fraud and foreign lottery scams.

Look at it as a matter of saving someone from themselves, so if they're targeted by scam artists and convinced to hand over their life's savings, the savings accessible are severely limited.

The bulk of their money is safe in the primary account, so their lifestyle and the well-being of their financial future don't take a hit.

4. Stay in Touch

One of the reasons vulnerable adults fall prey to scammers is the lack of immediate care and support. This isn't necessarily intentional. Children move, perhaps they move regularly, which makes it difficult to be physically near their parents. 

Parents themselves might insist on maintaining their independence and insist children keep living their own lives. In these instances, regular phone calls, text messaging, face-to-face calls, or Skype, are great to stay in touch and for family members to be included in the lives of their siblings and parents. 

Face-to-face calls are also a good way to keep an eye on the parents' health. For example, they can raise the alarm if several calls are missed and have a trusted friend pop in to see if everything is well.

It helps from a legal standpoint if this friend has been appointed a person of trust by a Los Angeles elder law attorney, so they can make temporary arrangements for care and assistance services.

5. Check their Credit Report Often

A credit report isn't going to show anomalies right away, but it will show variations that may need to be traced. The first credit report is free, thereafter, a $14.50 fee can be charged. Given the devastation that financial abuse can wreak, the said amount isn't that much for adult children to pay.

There are three agencies that provide credit reports and each has slightly different criteria and calculations. A Los Angeles elder care attorney will suggest that clients get at least one report from each agency throughout the year, just to keep an eye on things.

Plan Your Estate with a Reputable Elder Law Attorney in Los Angeles, CA

One of the most important ways in which elders are protected from financial fraud is to have a certified elder law attorney in Los Angeles, CA guide them through estate planning.

McKenzie Legal & Financial works closely with clients to create personalized estate plans that specifically protect elderly people from the dangers of financial abuse or fraud. 

One of the areas in which our team excel is the time we dedicate to your case. We ensure that you get all the time you need to work through estate planning. We're there to provide care and support as you go through an emotional process.

Don't leave estate planning until you experience a crisis. Start now and prevent the pain and dismay that are inherent in financial abuse. For a free consultation, call us at 562-594-4200 at McKenzie Legal & Financial today!

Thomas McKenzie Law
Estate Planning Attorney in California. Full-service law firm specializing in estate plans, wills and trusts, long-term care, and financial consulting. Thomas L. McKenzie received his Juris Doctor degree from Western State University College of Law, in Fullerton, California. While working full-time at night and attending full-time daily classes, Tom graduated law school with honors in 1993.

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