Seniors (and some disabled people) are a natural target for people up to financial no-good. Seniors and disabled people may be more dependent on others, which can make them easy targets.
Some defenses are just a matter of common sense. Don’t disclose passwords or account personal identification numbers/words and don’t make them easy to guess. Thus, you never should use your name or birthday as your password. Be skeptical. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Are you really very likely to have won a sweepstakes you don’t remember entering and never even heard of? Why would a stranger contact you out of the blue to give you millions of dollars? If an email claims to be from a major company, check whether it comes from that company’s website or one with only a similar name.
Don’t sign a contract until a lawyer has reviewed it. It’s particularly risky to sign a care facility contract for a relative. As discussed in other entries on this blog, signing a care facility agreement can make you liable for bills if the facility doesn’t get paid. Sure there are defenses to such claims, but do you really want that headache? Besides, at the end of the day, you could be found liable despite your defenses.
Finally, protect yourself against financial abuse. Only give power of attorney to loved ones who are trustworthy. An unrelated caregiver never should have control of your finances. Authorize your financial institutions to share information with trustworthy loved ones. Current privacy laws can preclude a bank or brokerage firm from sharing information about your finances with your family or even anti-abuse watchdogs. While proposed regulations may lessen such limitations, at this point, it is up to you to be proactive.
While anyone can become a victim of financial abuse, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. FriedmanLaw is here to help you get your legal affairs in order. We look forward to hearing from you.