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Phone: 201-345-3018
Toll Free: 866-678-0459
Phone: 201-345-3018

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Preempting elder financial abuse

Like many retirees in New Jersey and elsewhere, you hope that you will live a long and healthy life with your mental faculties intact. However, as you know, not everyone makes it to old age with a mind as sharp as it was in their twenties. While it is possible that you may avoid mental or physical incapacitation, it would be wise to prepare for it in case it happens.

If you do end up developing a cognitive disorder like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in your golden years, your finances – and your loved ones’ inheritance – may be in peril. There are many unscrupulous people who prey on vulnerable elderly people, and they largely focus their intents on relieving them of their assets. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, approximately one out of 20 seniors in America are the victims of financial abuse. You might become the target of one or more of the following common scams or abusive practices:

  • Fraudulent salespeople who go door-to-door offering roofing or landscaping services, then take a deposit and never return
  • Letters or emails claiming you won the lottery or a sweepstakes but need to pay a “processing fee” before receiving the funds
  • Requests for donations from false charities or other companies, which may progressively get more and more pushy about getting money from you
  • IRS scammers saying you will be arrested if you do not pay unpaid taxes immediately
  • Caregivers, family members or others coercing you into granting access to your bank account, signing over a power of attorney or making them the sole beneficiary of your will

The frightening thing is that you do not have to suffer from a cognitive impairment to become a scammer's target. Scams today are sophisticated and deceptive and have tricked intelligent people of all ages. If you are worried that you may fall prey to a scammer or be unable to manage your finances as you age, it may be a good idea to speak with an estate planning attorney about your options, including creating a living will or granting power of attorney to someone you trust.

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