Legal Planning can Help Prevent Elder Abuse

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KS and MO Attorney Kyle E Krull

Written by Kyle Krull

Attorney & Counsellor at Law Kyle Krull is president of the Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull, P.A., an Estate Planning Law Firm located in Overland Park, KS. Estate Planning Attorney Kyle Krull has provided continuing education instruction to attorneys, accountants, and financial professionals at local, state, and national programs.

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POSTED ON: June 18, 2024

Sometimes the people we trust most can disappoint us. Learn how legal planning and estate tools protect the elderly from abuse and exploitation.

We have all heard or read stories in the news about older adults getting scammed out of their life savings by con artists.

Whether it is the "Nigerian Prince" needing a U.S.-based bank account to funnel money or it is the "IRS" coming to take their house, many older folks have fallen prey to the twin ditches of greed and fear.

However, not all scammers and thieves are strangers to their victims.

Some are even family members.

For example, in a recent case reported by FOX43, an 86-year-old father fell victim to elder abuse at the hands of his own son.

According to the report, the son stole $153,168 from his father.

This story is a painful reminder of how even trusted individuals can exploit the vulnerability of elderly loved ones.

Likewise, it reminds us to be vigilant of elder abuse to prevent these heartbreaking situations.

What Is Elder Abuse, and Why Is It a Growing Concern?

Elder abuse is a serious issue that affects many older adults.

It includes physical, emotional, and financial harm, and the perpetrators are often trusted individuals.

Since many elderly people rely on others for their daily needs, this renders them especially vulnerable to abuse.

To make matters worse, elder abuse is becoming more common as the elderly population grows.

How much so?

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) states that one in ten Americans aged 60 and older has experienced some form of elder abuse.

Yikes!

Financial elder abuse

You can help prevent elder financial abuse through legal planning with an experienced estate planning attorney.

How can Legal Planning Protect Elders?

Legal planning can help protect an elderly person's wishes and their assets.

Estate planning attorneys can assist in creating essential documents like last wills, various trusts, and general durable powers of attorney.

These documents guide the management of an elderly person’s assets and who will make decisions on their behalf.

A general durable power of attorney (GDPOA) is especially important.

It is a legal document that allows someone to make fundamental financial decisions for another person.

If an elderly individual cannot make decisions for themselves, a GDPOA is vital.

Moreover, a trustworthy person with GDOPA can prevent financial abuse and protect the elderly person's needs.

What are the Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?

Recognizing the signs of elder abuse is crucial for prevention. Some common warning signs include:

  • Unexplained injuries or bruises
  • Sudden changes in financial situation
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Poor hygiene or living conditions
  • Fear or anxiety around certain individuals

What Steps Can Be Taken to Prevent Elder Abuse?

  • Regular Check-Ins: Regularly check in on your elderly loved ones. Frequent visits or phone calls can help you notice any changes in their behavior or living conditions.
  • Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of elder abuse and stay informed about how to protect your loved ones.
  • Legal Safeguards: Work with an estate planning attorney to create legal documents that protect the elderly person's assets and outline their care preferences.

How can Estate Planning Help Protect Seniors?

Estate planning is relevant for every adult American, it is especially relevant with age.

An estate planning attorney can help create a comprehensive plan to protect elderly individuals and their assets.

Beyond the GDPOA, strategies may include setting up trusts to manage assets and appointing agents to make medical decisions under advance health care directives.

Take your first step toward securing a comprehensive estate plan; schedule a consultation today.

Key Takeaways

  • Elder Abuse Awareness: Stay alert to warning signs of elder abuse. Sudden financial changes, unexplained injuries, and strange behaviors are potential warning signs.
  • Importance of Legal Planning: Estate planning can protect your loved ones. Leverage legal tools like those discussed above.
  • Role of Estate Planning: Estate planning is not just for distributing assets after someone dies. Instead, it can protect them during their lifetime.
  • Consult an Estate Planning Attorney: Aging well can be a challenge. Professional legal advice can make it safer and easier.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice concerning any particular issue or problem. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between Harvest Law KC and the reader.

References:  FOX43 (Oct. 22, 2018) "Son charged for stealing $153,168 from 86-year-old father, officials talk elder abuse warning signs | fox43.com"

NCOA (National Council on Aging) (Feb. 23, 2021) "Get the Facts on Elder Abuse"

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