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Friday, December 9, 2016

Financial elder abuse is on the rise

To those of us who work with seniors and their legal documents every day, this headline is hardly a surprise. I agree with the author of the article, though, that the general public is not aware of just how prevalent elder financial abuse really is.

Click here to read an article from that talks about the rise of this type of abuse in Canada.

The article mentions abuse by children of their parents' Enduring Powers of Attorney, and I agree that more parents need to be cautious about appointing their children with blind faith that is misplaced. However, there is more that a parent can do to protect himself or herself when having an Enduring Power of Attorney prepared. Here are a couple of ideas for things that can be included right in your document:

1. A clause saying that if one of the kids acts under your POA, he or she has to give a regular, written accounting to someone of  your choice - your other kids, your siblings, your accountant, etc.

2. A clause saying that the POA cannot be used in any bank or other place unless and until it has attached a certificate from a lawyer saying that the person appointed under the POA had consulted the lawyer and was fully advised of what he/she can and cannot legally do under the POA.

3. A clause saying that if one of  your kids acts as your POA, on your death if any money is missing or unexplained, that is coming out of that child's share of your estate.

4. Specific instructions that the kids are NOT to give any money to themselves under any circumstances except as specifically allowed by your POA document.

Finally, seriously consider hiring a trust company as your executor and to act under your POA. They charge a fee but it's a reasonable fee, especially when compared to the risk of everything you own being stolen or squandered.

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