Preventing Elderly Abuse

There is no question the elderly in this country in particular are our most vulnerable population relative to so many different factors: physical and mental health, financial issues, education, family, and greed. This subject is near and dear to me as I have navigated through everything from scammers calling my mother and father-in-law to learning how to be the best advocate for their care, especially health care.

True story: several years back as my father-in-law was beginning to show signs of suffering from dementia, my husband learned one day that an insurance agent had actually sold my father-in-law, (a man who was in his 70’s,) a policy for volcano insurance. As he lived in the heart of middle Tennessee, this was the most absurd abuse of a vulnerable older person I had ever heard of at the time. A few years later, my mom was living with me, (also in her late 70’s,) and she received a call on her cell from someone claiming to be with the IRS telling her she was going to go to jail if she didn’t pay the back taxes owed immediately. She was trying to explain on the phone that she didn’t owe anything, always paid all her taxes, and there must be some mistake. After a few minutes when she started to cry, I took the phone and asked for the agent’s ID information and call-back number. I stated that my father retired from the IRS and always did our taxes and there were no mistakes. I insisted on getting an ID, and we were promptly hung up on. I often wonder if these thieves would put so much planning and energy into doing good rather than living a life of crime how different their lives would be making contributions to society.

Individuals who commit intentional criminal actions can be punished by the law if they get caught, but what about those latent actions, lack of knowledge, laziness, ineptitude – what can we do about those “crime-like” activities? I believe the answer is an educational opportunity. Allow me to explain. I like to boil it down to “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” but if it’s outdated or needs revising, let’s do something about it. I hope you agree.

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One good example would be regarding insurance. I had a conversation just yesterday with a client where I ask him, “what do you know about insurance?” I wasn’t surprised at his response, given his younger age. He said he thought it was kind of scam and a way to make money. We had a great conversation about the industry and what used to be acceptable or “normal,” due to the fact there were very different products available in past years and very few who actually knew what could or should be done to help his/her client. It was traditionally a sales approach, not a service approach. He appreciated learning more about it.

Many of our older generation hold old life insurance policies where the premiums, due to their advanced age, begin going up—as much as 300% in one recent case we worked on. This is what I consider unethical outcomes to poorly designed or outdated policy performance and strategies. Most people do not know they can have an audit done to assess multiple approaches to reducing the premiums and keeping the policy or eliminating the premiums and investing in better vehicles. A simple free audit that might take up to two weeks is a painless exercise that could save millions in many cases. Please see the attached flyer about a free seminar coming up. It’s important to share this with your Estate Planner and/or CPA.

I would also briefly like to touch on being an advocate in decisions regarding your loved one’s health care. I won’t bore you with my most recent long story about my mother but let me say this: ASK questions! I can’t tell you how many mistakes were made where we almost lost my mom during a recent hospitalization. Multiple opinions are critical. Make sure you have legal structures in place to provide the best possible care. It’s relatively inexpensive to set up a Trust, and include precise language directives for the specific, detailed care your loved one desires. This might be a challenge for families. I’ve struggled in my personal family’s cohesiveness on goals, but it’s extremely important. If you need a resource to assist with family conversations, there are professionals to help you. Reach out for information; it’s important.

Lastly, the proposed reduction in the death taxes outlined in the latest legislation (Here Comes the Joe Biden Tax Bill -WSJ) is certainly cause for reviewing legacy plans to avoid loss. There will be many searching for other miens to protect assets, and that’s our specialty.

Contact us for more information to set up a free consultation. Know your options and do your research.

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