The prospect of a long, healthy and active life is a wonderful thing to consider. However, one in 10 seniors have suffered financial abuse, according to The Kansas City Star’s article “Five ways to avoid elder financial abuse.” The grandson of Brooke Astor spoke at a conference about how his grandmother’s last years were spent living in squalor, as a result of her son and guardian stealing from the estate and cutting the amount of money available for her care. The grandson and his brother sued their father to protect their beloved grandmother, a leading philanthropist and one of New York’s high-profile society figures.
However, elder financial abuse is not limited to the super wealthy or socially prominent. One report noted that one in ten seniors suffers some form of financial abuse.
Why does this happen?
As we age, our brain also ages making us more susceptible to making poor decisions. Even high-functioning retirees with no outward sign of dementia, find it harder to distinguish safe investments from risky ones. The probability of dementia also rises as we age: only 7% of people over 60 have dementia, but nearly 30% of people over age 85 have some degree of dementia.
Here are some suggestions to minimize the likelihood of financial elder abuse:
Communicate. Talk with your loved ones on a regular basis, so you know how their health is and what they are doing. If they don’t want to talk about money, you can start the conversation by sharing something about your own situation. Remind them about safe practices like shredding receipts, bills and account statements. Remind them not to open emails from people they don’t know and not to give their Social Security number or account numbers on the phone or online to people they don’t know.
Stay involved. Know how your loved ones are spending their time and money, by staying involved in their lives. If they are hiring people to do work on or in the house, know who those people are and check their backgrounds. Get to know their home healthcare aides. Review their bank statements to ensure no unusual activity is taking place. If you see that they are starting to decline, offer to take over tasks for them.
Check and balance. Make sure that the correct estate planning documents are in place to allow trusted family members to help, if the need arises, such as power of attorney and medical directive. Divide up responsibilities; consider having one person in charge of bank accounts and another in charge of investment accounts. Trade responsibilities every few months.
Have a relationship with their professionals. Attend meetings with their estate planning attorney and their financial advisor. If there is any hesitation on the part of the professional, push back: any qualified estate planning attorney or financial advisor or CPA should welcome family involvement.
Streamline accounts. Fraud is harder to see, when there’s money in multiple financial institutions with multiple advisors and life insurance policies from several different brokers. Spend the time to do a complete inventory of all accounts. If you can, consolidate accounts.
Reference: The Kansas City Star (Sep. 8, 2018) “Five ways to avoid elder financial abuse”
“雖然長壽是一件好事，但它也會帶來挑戰 - 不幸的是，有時也會帶來財產掠奪者。”
長壽，健康和積極的生活前景是一個值得思考的好事。然而，根據 The Kansas City Star的文章“Five ways to avoid elder financial abuse”，十分之一的老人正遭受經濟虐待。Brooke Astor的孫子在一次會議上發表講話，談到他的祖母過去幾年如何生活在惡劣環境中，她的兒子和監護人偷了她的資產並減少用於照顧她的錢。這位孫子和他的兄弟起訴他們的父親，以保護他們心愛的祖母，她是一位慈善家先鋒和紐約一位備受矚目的社會人士。
溝通 定期與您的親人交談，讓您知道他們的健康狀況以及他們正在做的事。如果他們不想談論金錢，你可以通過分享一些關於你自己的情況來開始。提醒他們關於撕碎收據，賬單和月結單的安全做法。提醒他們不要打開他們 陌生人的電子郵件，也不要在手機或網上向他們陌生人提供社會安全號碼或帳號。
簡化帳戶 當錢在多個金融機構中, 而金融機構中有多個顧問及人壽保險單來自幾個不同經紀時，欺詐就更難看到了。花點時間去完成所有帳戶的完整清單。如果可以，合併帳戶。
參考: The Kansas City Star (Sep. 8, 2018) “Five ways to avoid elder financial abuse”