In this day and age, there’s always a new scam to beware of, and it seems the elderly tend to be targeted the most. From telemarketing to health insurance scams, there’s always something new to be cautious of. One scam that your estate plan will protect you from is guardianship.
Many people think guardianship refers to being in charge of a child’s care, but there are guardianship laws in place for people of any age if they were to become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves. This may happen for a number of reasons. It’s estimated there are 1.5 million adults under guardianship in the United States and the majority of that number are over the age of 65. Because older generations typically have more wealth, this makes them targets for abuse.
The Guardians – A Documentary About Exploitation of Elderly
For example, the documentary The Guardians explores the takedown of a Las Vegas guardianship abuse ring that involved the public guardian and a private guardianship agency. The two “guardians” conspired to acquire guardianship over seniors and through various acts would steal their assets. This scam ran deep including judges, lawyers, and medical professionals, but through the persistence of the victims’ families legal action was taken and the ring disbanded.
This is an extreme case of financial abuse against elders, but it does highlight another reason to make sure your estate plan is up to date and will be used to protect you.
How Your Estate Plan Will Protect You
If you lose capacity, an effective plan will immediately give the individuals that you name the power to make any decisions needed when it comes to your care and estate. A will only goes into effect in the event of your death, so there are other documents you should have in your estate plan to protect you.
-Revocable Living Trust: you name a person to gain control of your assets held by the trust and to be used for your care in the case you lose capacity. This can include terms in which you want your care handled as well.
-Healthcare Power of Attorney: names a person of your choosing to have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf about your medical treatment.
-Living Will: lists specific wishes for your medical decisions in the case you are incapacitated.
-Durable Financial Power of Attorney: give the person you name immediate power to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf.
Put Your Plan In Place
Even if you are not of the demographic that is typically targeted in these financial scams, having your estate plan in place is the best idea to protect you and your family from anything that may come your way. Whether you hire an expert estate planning attorney or use a DIY service, don’t wait to take care of your estate plan.
We can help get you started if you aren’t sure how. Contact us with any questions or to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG