The Netflix movie, “I Care A Lot,” is meant to be an entertaining movie about a shady legal guardian who picks the wrong elderly woman to exploit and faces some dire consequences. The film is a comedy, but Elder Financial Exploitation is a real problem, and up to five million older Americans are abused every year, and the annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion, according to the National Council on Aging.
To minimize the risk of exploitation for yourself or a loved one, choosing the right power of attorney is vital. When creating your trust and power of attorney, you need to pick the right fiduciaries to help you. Here are some tips on finding the right person/persons to name as your successor Trustee, power of attorney, and health care surrogate:
- Trust, but verify. Only appoint someone you trust and make sure they know your wishes and preferences. You can require in your POA that your agent regularly reports to another person on the financial transactions he or she makes on your behalf.
- Avoid appointing a person who mismanages their own money or has problems with substance abuse or gambling.
- Tell friends, family members, and financial advisers about your power of attorney (POA), so they can look out for you. Ask your financial institution about its POA procedures.
- Remember that POA designations are not written in stone – you can change them.
- Avoid appointing hired caregivers or other paid helpers as your agent under a power of attorney.
- Beware of someone who wants to help you out by handling your finances and be your new “best friend.” If an offer of help seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law, serves clients in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Melbourne, and beyond with matters of Estate Planning, and Probate Law. Contact her today to schedule a free consultation. Visit her page on Facebook, or see what her clients are saying to learn more about Heidi.