Family Law Lawyer: Protecting Your Aging Parents Against Fraud and Abuse
Mar 21, 2023
Family law lawyer regularly creates wills, powers of attorney, and full estate plans for their clients. If you haven’t already created your own will or estate plan, now is the time. Many people put it off thinking they will have time down the road, but the one thing that is constant in life is change…and often those changes come faster than we’d like.
Canada’s population is aging. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the number of seniors aged 75+ will double between 2017 and 2037. While many of us are living longer, and aging comfortably, a large number will face physical decline, cognitive decline, and even dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The need to protect seniors from fraud and abuse is becoming critical, as increasingly sophisticated scams target this vulnerable population. So how can you protect yourself and your loved ones?
Have Conversations with Your Elderly Relatives
Having conversations with your aging relatives is the first step. Don’t wait until it is too late.
While some seniors will talk openly about their estate plans, others might fear giving up control. Taking a slow, soft approach over time can smooth the conversations and produce better outcomes.
Try soft starters like:
- I’m starting to put together my will and power of attorney – have you done that, and do you have any advice for me?
- If something were to happen to you, I’d like to make sure your wishes are honoured. Do you have any notes on how you’d like to handle medical care or your banking?
If they have a will and power of attorney in place, make sure you know where the documents are kept. Their family law lawyer should have a copy on file. Encourage your family members to openly share their wishes so that you are all on the same page.
If they don’t have an estate plan (including will and powers of attorney) in place, encourage them to visit their family law lawyer to create one.
Review Assets, Organize Documents and Resources
Enacting Powers of Attorney can be complicated at a time when you are dealing with a crisis in health care or finances.
While your loved ones may be wary of providing full details like account numbers, it’s a good idea to talk with them and collect details/contact information for:
- Utilities – providers of hydro, phone, internet, cable, etc.
- Bank accounts – where do they bank, and what types of accounts do they hold (e.g., credit cards, savings, chequing accounts, TFSAs)
- Investments – where have they invested money – stocks, RRSPs RIFs, etc.
- Pharmacy and medications
- Medical providers – doctors, dentists, chiropodists, gerontologists, and hearing specialists.
Talk about Scams
Make sure seniors in your life are aware of common scams targeting the elderly. These include tech support scams, banking, romance, and grandchildren scams. These cons are designed to take advantage of the loneliness and isolation of seniors and often go unreported as the elderly are either unaware or too embarrassed to report the crime.
Read up on these scams and make sure your elderly relatives are aware of them too. If potential targets are armed with information, the scammers are less likely to succeed.
Understand Elder Abuse. Get Information from a Family Law Lawyer
Elder abuse is a complicated issue. It includes both action and lack of action that harms a senior’s health or welfare. Elder abuse can be caused by friends, paid/unpaid care providers, landlords, or any person in a position of trust and authority in a senior’s life.
Elder abuse includes physical, psychological, or financial abuse or neglect. But what if your care of a senior is perceived as abuse? You may feel you are providing for your parent, and they may feel you are taking advantage of them.
If you are a caregiver for an elderly friend or relative, it’s important that you understand the law. If you have power of attorney, your family law lawyer can help you better understand the power of attorney obligations to family members to ensure both you and your loved ones are protected.
Looking for an Experienced Family Law Lawyer? Contact the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm
Kelly Jordan and her team of associates, Emma Katz, Melissa Richa, and Kate Deveau are highly qualified family law attorneys. They understand that each family law case requires both compassion and a deep understanding of the law. Should you need help navigating your power of attorney obligations and responsibilities, or wish to create your own will/estate plan, they can help. The family law attorneys at the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law firm make completing wills and estate documentation seamless and effortless, at a reasonable flat rate.
Ready to start the process? Book an appointment today.
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Government of Ontario: Information about elder abuse – https://www.ontario.ca/page/information-about-elder-abuse
Government of Canada: What every older Canadian should know about Fraud and scams – https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/fraud-scams.html