10 Ways to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse
Financial exploitation of any kind is illegal.
Insidious, this form of elder abuse is often committed by someone who the victim trusts and cares about.
Nevertheless, it must be stopped and reported to the authorities.
Examples of Financial Exploitation
Elder financial abuse occurs when someone misuses or misappropriates a senior’s money for personal benefit.
The telltale signs include:
- Threatening or obtaining the money by force
- Failing to respect the conditions of power of attorney
- Selling off assets without consent
- Getting a senior to make changes to his/her legal documents (will)
- Stealing money or property
- Resorting to emotional blackmail
Rest assured, there are ways to protect yourself.
1. Estate Planning
Do your estate planning while you can still do it yourself.
Write your last wishes in a will. Name a liquidator (executor). Sort out your finances, like taking out a life insurance policy to cover your debts and funeral expenses.
Be open with your loved ones about your wishes so that they will know what to do if ever you are unable to.
2. Set Limits
Here’s what you can do to prevent large amounts of money from being withdrawn from your bank account:
- Pay recurring bills through preauthorized debit
- Set a limit on the number of daily transactions (maximum number of purchases made with your account)
- Set a withdrawal limit (maximum amount of money that can be taken out at one time)
Be smart with your passwords. Create ones that are hard to guess and different for each account.
They should contain at least three character types: capital letters, numbers and symbols.
Change them regularly.
Write them down on paper and avoid sharing them.
4. Plan for the Future
There are two options when it comes to having someone act on your behalf:
- Power of attorney
- Protection mandate
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one or more persons the authority to manage your assets on your behalf (e.g. you are leaving on a trip or your finances are complicated). A protection mandate differs in that it applies when you can no longer do it yourself. In both cases, you can always change your mind and cancel them.
A protection mandate lets you choose who will make decisions concerning your money management when you are no longer able to.
You must be mentally apt when signing these documents. You must also trust the person you name.
5. My Account, Your Card
Never lend your debit or credit cards to anyone.
Instead, have a card made especially for this person.
6. Store Your Valuables
Keep your jewelry and other valuables in a safe deposit box.
Don’t keep more money than you need at home or in your wallet/purse.
7. Be Discrete
Avoid showing off your wealth.
Discretion is the best option.
8. Hire Professionals
When it comes to managing your money, assets and finances, rely on professionals: lawyers, accountants and financial security advisors.
As members of a professional order, their work is governed by strict laws. This will also protect you from abuse.
They can help you with things like power of attorney, protection mandates and other financial documents.
They are there to listen to you and can help you in the event that someone you know tries to exploit you financially.
9. Break the Isolation
Socially isolated seniors are most at risk of financial abuse.
A social network of people who care about and support you will make you less vulnerable and in a better position to defend yourself.
10. Lifetime Annuity
Taking out a lifetime annuity means that you get a steady stream of income until you die. You will never be able to take out more than what you initially planned.
This will avoid your loved ones mistaking you for an ATM and improperly managing your money.
What to do in case of financial abuse?
You worked your entire life. It’s time to make the most of your retirement.
Whether you are witness to or a victim of financial abuse, resources are available to help resolve this situation.
These services are free.
Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse
The Commission carries out investigations in cases of financial exploitation of the elderly.
The Commission can serve as mediator between parties and has the authority to bring cases to court in order to protect a victim and force the aggressor to reimburse stolen money.
Financial exploitation that involves physical abuse must be reported to the police.
Note: This blog is for informational purposes. It is not a substitute for professional legal, financial or fiscal advice.