It is far, far better to prevent elder financial abuse happening at all than experiencing it and having to deal with it.
We offer the following broad guidelines on how to prevent elder abuse (which we will add to from time to time):
- Plan ahead, make good, considered choices about your finances, and appoint a trustworthy person, or persons (see below) as your attorney/s
- Plan ahead also taking particular account of the fact that you may one day lose capacity to make financial decisions – who is going to make these decisions for you?
- Make all of your own financial/legal decisions yourself – do not leave them to an attorney under a power of attorney even if the attorney is empowered to act prior to incapacity
- Don’t sign any important financial document quickly (for instance, a power of attorney or a loan agreement), and only sign after getting professional advice
- Appoint two attorneys in your power of attorney, preferably one of them an independent person, to act “jointly” – they both must agree to any decision.
- Don’t make your power of attorney commence “immediately”. Make it commence only upon incapacity.
- Always consult legal and financial advisers in relation to important questions – always have independent advice
- The document endureth
- Lawyers write legally valid and enforceable agreements; lay people usually don’t
- Act immediately if you suspect foul play – don’t let things fester and potentially get worse (they usually will get worse)
- Immediately consult with friends or a trusted family member if you do not want to confront the suspected perpetrator
- Be careful of new “best friends”