Stealing from Grandma and Grandpa

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which gives one adult the power to make financial decisions on behalf of another. Properly drafted and in the right hands, it can be a responsible, and powerful tool to help care for elderly loved ones. Unfortunately, there are ways to abuse this “power.” A recent article published by MSNBC, Stealing from Grandpa and Grandma, highlights the warning signs of elder theft and offers tips on what to do if you suspect a family member or friend is suffering financial abuse.

The most important tip they offer is to stay involved in the care of your loved one. Do not just assume that someone else is taking care of things properly. Ask questions, and make sure those with the “power” know that someone else is watching, too. Also, if you suspect financial abuse – whether by an attorney, accountant, or family member – report the crime to your state’s Adult Protective Services. One bright spot is the new Elder Justice Act, passed this year as part of the health care bill, which sets aside $800 million to expand efforts to investigate elder financial theft.

If you suspect financial abuse, but aren’t sure – or are reluctant to involve law enforcement, one good strategy is to contact a qualified elder law attorney for advice in your particular situation. For more information about elder issues, subscribe to our newsletter and please visit our website.

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