As estate planning professionals we are charged with the responsibility of helping people prepare for all of the possibilities that they may encounter as they age. The underlying objective is to protect your assets and make sure that your wishes are carried out with regard to both financial and medical matters. Asset protection in this context is referring to keeping your resources out of the reach of claimants. However, there is another type of asset protection to consider as well in light of the ongoing problem that we have with elder financial abuse.
You would like to think that everyone would have a certain amount of reverence and respect for senior citizens, and most people do. However, there are always those who are looking for a way to pounce if they sense any type of weakness, and this makes elders a target. A MetLife Mature Market Institute survey that was conducted in 2009 estimates total losses due to elder financial abuse at some $2.6 billion a year. Unfortunately this number may in fact be much higher because so many cases go unreported.; experts suggest that perhaps one out of every 25 instances of elder financial abuse are brought to the attention of the authorities.
Why are so few of these cases brought out into the light of day? This is probably attributable to the fact that family members are the perpetrators in most cases and the victims choose to protect them. People also tend to feel a sense of shame when they realize they have been tricked and they are not anxious to tell anyone about it.
Raising awareness is one way of combating this alarming practice, and to that end it is something that should be openly discussed.
The next time that you sit down with your elder law attorney broach the subject the elder financial abuse and ask about the steps that can be taken to prevent it on a financial planning level.