Everyone knows that estate planning is important. You may even have already created an estate plan, whether it involves a will, trust, or other provision. While most people who create estate plans do so with an eye to ensuring that their financial interests and the financial interests of their loved ones are maintained, many people do not create an estate plan that is also designed to protect them from elder abuse.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is, unfortunately, very common. With senior citizens, this kind of abuse can be hard to detect, as the abuser often tends to be a caregiver and the caregiver may either threaten the senior citizen into silence or the senior citizen may not speak up due to shame or even guilt concerning the situation.
Elder abuse includes behaviors like withholding food from a senior citizen as “punishment,” physically harming a senior citizen to “keep them in line” or “teach them a lesson,” or threatening or lying to a senior citizen in order to get them to transfer control of assets to them. While you may think this could never happen to you, when we age we become more mentally, physically, and emotionally vulnerable, making it easier for others to take advantage of us.
How Can Estate Planning Help?
Estate planning allows you to prepare for and preempt these kinds of situations. In particular, power of attorney can be an incredibly useful tool. Power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone you trust, such as a family member or friend, to make your medical and/or financial decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. Once you become mentally incapacitated it becomes too late to execute power of attorney.
Even if you have set up your power of attorney, however, that may not be enough to mitigate, prevent, or respond to elder abuse. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you take your estate plan one step further by ensuring you craft it with an eye to protecting your assets from those who would seek to harm you or take financial advantage of you. This can include helping you determine which of your assets should be placed into trusts, for example, and working with you to select a trustee to administer and oversee your assets.
What Can I Do if I Think a Loved One is Suffering From Elder Abuse?
If you think a loved one is suffering from elder abuse, your first step should be to ensure the safety of your loved one. If you can remove them from the location where they are being abused, that is an ideal first step. Depending on the nature of the abuse, you may want to get law enforcement involved immediately. If the abuse is financial, consider consulting an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what options are available to you to protect your loved one’s assets.
Want to Make Sure Your Estate Plan Protects You From Elder Abuse?
Whether you need to create an estate plan or update an existing estate plan that protects you from elder abuse, the experienced attorneys at M&A Law are ready to help you protect yourself and your assets. Contact M&A Law Firm, PC today to discuss your options.