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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
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Preventing elder abuse requires planning, possibly guardian

Many experts agree that one of the issues that's going to be of growing concern in the next ten years or more is financial abuse of our aging population. It doesn't matter if you live in New Jersey or another state, the increasing size of the aging population and the concurrent increase in cases of brain-damaging dementia in that population means an anticipated rise in financial abuse of the elderly.

We see it happening regularly already. In the closing months of last year there was the story of a group of four people who allegedly held some mentally disabled adults in a basement and collected their Social Security checks. That and other stories reinforce the value of guardianship; preferably assigned as part of estate planning.

Just to be clear, a guardian is someone named in legal documents, such as a will, to make decisions for someone who might not be able to for themselves. They may be appointed by a court, but individuals can name their own and that's usually the preferred method of choice.

Sadly, research suggests that elder financial abuse is most often perpetrated by family members or hands-on caregivers. And because the scope of control that such a person can have over the life and finances of their charge is so broad, accountability becomes crucial. That becomes easier if you select your guardian and note it in your legal documents. Specific accountability measures can be spelled out in your estate plan.

Elder abuse experts say there are signs to watch for if you are concerned about elder financial abuse. They include sudden money shortages; money being siphoned out of bank accounts or new accounts being set up; wills or assignments of power of attorney changing unexpectedly; strangers suddenly befriending an elder; and suspicious charges appearing on credit cards.

Even if you have all the necessary legal documents in place, it is advisable to revisit them regularly. If they were drawn up even a few years ago, there may be conditions that have changed requiring some alterations. To remain in control, it makes sense to get into a habit of doing regular reviews.

Source: YorkRegion.com, "Family often behind financial abuse," Chris Traber, Dec. 14, 2011

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