Though only the worst of the worst would prey on the elderly, the sad truth is that the financial exploitation of elders by unscrupulous individuals continues relatively unabated. The nature of these crimes leave many unaware that their parents have been victimized until it is too late–prevention is the best defense.
Fortunately, no small amount of resources have been devoted toward combating this scourge. The Investor Protection Trust has conducted a number of studies on the subject, including one finding the top three avenues of financial exploitation:
- Theft of funds or property by family members
- Theft of funds or property by caregivers
- Financial scams by strangers
Their survey revealed that one of every nine seniors has been victim to financial abuse!
You parents shielded you from danger as a child; you owe it to them to stand by their side as they face this challenge. Below are the five keys to their protection–even doing just one could make the difference.
FIND a financial abuse prevention seminar. If they are part of a senior center or organization, it is likely that they have easy access to these kinds of programs. Pick one out together that is convenient for you and your parent(s) to attend and put it on the calendar.
AUTOMATE your parents’ finances. Many potential sources of income–pensions, retirement, investment income, and Social Security–can now be deposited directly in a savings or checking account at no extra charge. Your bank likely offers services online that will free them entirely from the hassle of writing a check for each and every bill at the end of the month, to say nothing of immediate access to their banking information.
COMMUNICATE with them frequently. Yes, if you’re reading this, you probably are good at keeping in touch with your parents. But are you asking the right questions? It can be vital to know if they have been solicited by anyone who called, visited, or emailed. If you live nearby, visit in person. They’ll be happy to see you and you may get a fuller story than you would over the phone.
INVEST a percentage of their retirement income into a low-cost, immediate-fixed or inflation-adjusted annuity from a reputable insurance company. This will provide a guaranteed lifetime income that cannot be lost to fraud or abuse.
KEEP your parents’ savings in their former employer’s 401(k) plan. The federal government maintains strict regulations to ensure that employees get the benefit they paid for all those years. These plans may even offer the best investment deal possible.
If you’d like to learn more about estate planning, call our office today at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.
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