Elder fraud is becoming a growing concern as the baby boomers are beginning to retire and are not well versed in the latest technology. Recent studies show that senior citizens are being defrauded through Internet and telephone scams. As an estate planner and elder law specialist, I thought I would share a few tips on how to safeguard assets from financial abuse.
One way to prepare for the future and to safeguard assets is to have a Florida estate and financial plan with proper controls in place. We recommend that many clients should start considering adding elder law or asset protection planning once they reach age 60 or acquire large assets. The estate plan should deal with all of a client’s assets are accounted for and the plan be reviewed every periodically or when there has been a change in the family like a birth, death, divorce, or marriage.
We also feel it is important client’s have a support group is in place as he or she enters into retirement. It is important to identify every person’s support group, which should include professionals, designers, and those who have authority over a client’s health care. It is key to begin communications between these members, as it provides checks and balances, and helps to prevent fraud.
Another way to prevent fraud is to schedule regular appointments with your financial and/or estate planner. These regular meetings should help to detect any unusual activity that could be fraudulent and will keep these professionals up to date on the client’s estate. What a client may not think is fraud or financial abuse may in fact be fraud and it’s important to discuss any major financial moves with the planner to ensure the assets are safe.
It is important to have a will, that contains a clear plan on how a person’s assets will be distributed once he or she passes away. A proper will can help an estate be administered properly and avoid a lengthy probate process. This estate-planning tool also helps to prevent fighting between family members over certain assets and lets the estate owner decide where his or her assets go directly. An estate without a will passes through the probate process intestate, which means it is distributed by the state in percentages according to state laws.
Another great estate planning tool that can help to prevent fraud is a trust. A revocable or irrevocable trust can reduce the likelihood of fraud by allowing an elder to place his or her assets in the trust and allowing the assets to be managed by a trustee of their choice. This trustee can be a friend, relative, or even a professional financial adviser or bank and can help ensure that money and other assets are properly accounted for and distributed according to the rules the settlor, or the person who creates the trust, sets. The trustee will be in charge of making and distributions to beneficiaries and even the settlor. We usually recommend the settlor pick someone with a sound financial acumen and that is willing to communicate with the settlor on his or her desires.
For more information on how to prevent elder abuse and to obtain a secure estate plan, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today.