“If your parent or grandparent has to go into a nursing home, we help protect their nest egg,” he says. “There are ways to do that if you properly plan for it.
“If a loved one dies, we help you administer their estate if you’re appointed as the executor. Or if they haven’t done a proper power of attorney, sometimes it’s necessary for us to petition the court to have you or another family member appointed guardian.”
Every year, America’s senior citizens lose close to $3 billion due to financial exploitation, either from scam artists or unscrupulous caregivers.
It’s this type of abuse that led lawmakers this year to pass the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, put forward by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and signed into law by President Trump in mid-October.
The law creates tougher penalties for frauds, expands information sharing rules to prevent financial fraud targeting seniors, and expands the federal criminal code to include email marketing schemes.
“Exploiting and defrauding seniors is cowardly, and these crimes should be addressed as the reprehensible acts they are,” Grassley, himself a senior citizen, said earlier this year.
When you work as an elder law attorney, you see people who have fallen victim to these sorts of crimes all too often. And while stronger penalties are no doubt a good thing, there are things you can do to prevent your loved ones from falling victim to financial elder abuse:
A power of attorney (POA) is a document which gives you the authority to appoint an agent to make both financial and health care decisions on your behalf if you become disabled or incapacitated. It is a very important legal document.
Under the new law, when you prepare your POA, it must be witnessed by two individuals and notarized.
Additionally, there are changes to the current notice and acknowledgment pages. As the person making the POA, you sign the notice page. The notice page informs you of the broad powers you are giving to your agent. The acknowledgment page must be signed by your agent before he or she uses the power of attorney. By signing, your agent agrees to act in your best interests, in good faith, and only within the scope of authority given the agent in the POA.
As we live through the latest winter storms to strike our area, we often think about how this is affecting our aging parents. Most of us call to ask if they are okay, check on them, bring them groceries and shovel their snow. As caring children and family members, we worry about their safety and well-being. After all, they raised us and gave us a significant part of their lives. In the same way, we should make certain that our parents’ social and financial matters are in order. Sometimes we begin to notice that they may need more help. Seniors may often begin to neglect proper management of their finances or tend to ignore any warning signs regarding their health or well-being. This often becomes a good time to start a conversation with your parents to discuss how they might benefit from assistance from family members. This is also the situation where an effective elder law attorney can be a valuable partner.
Without an estate plan, attorneys, or the courts, may decide the fate of your assets.
Even if you have a modest estate, it’s important that you know the basics of estate planning, as well as get expert assistance in making plans. Young or old, wealthy or not so much, you can make life easier on your loved ones during a time of grief by being proactive. For this reason, we advise you to start the estate planning process as early as possible.
What can you do now to ensure that your assets go to the people you choose, not those the state chooses, or that your affairs will be taken care of as you wish if you become incapacitated?
With Americans living longer than ever before, planning for the high cost of long-term care is critical to preserving a family’s hard-earned savings. Most seniors will likely require some form of long-term care, but many of them are unprepared for the significant financial burdens it places on their family.
Medicaid is a health and long-term care coverage program that is jointly financed by states and the federal government. Each state establishes and administers its own Medicaid program and determines the type, amount, duration, and scope of services covered within broad federal guidelines. Federal law also requires states to cover certain mandatory eligibility groups, including qualified parents, children, and pregnant women with low income, as well as older adults and people with disabilities with low income. States must cover certain mandatory benefits and may choose to provide other optional benefits.