Unfortunately, older people are often seen as “easy targets” for financial abuse — even by their own relatives. If you’re an older adult, it’s important to recognize the self-serving actions of others when you see them.
Here are some of the most common things you need to guard against:
1. Property that seems to vanish.
Some of your relatives may figure that you’ve forgotten all about that diamond ring, coin collection or antique watch just because you haven’t pulled it out in a while. If you catch anyone going through your personal valuables or you start to notice things are missing, don’t let yourself be convinced that you’re just losing items.
2. Relatives who want to “help” you.
Beware of relatives (or even friends and neighbors) who want to “help” you with your bills and paperwork even though you haven’t asked them — especially if they suggest that you add their name to your bank account so they can manage things for you.
It’s perfectly all right if you want to put the name of someone you trust on your accounts and you’re asking for help, but don’t let anyone convince you that you’re suddenly incapable of managing your affairs for no reason.
3. Nosey questions about your estate plans.
You can and should discuss your final plans with the people who are most involved — like your executor and the people who have your powers of attorney. Any other discussions you want to have are up to you. If you feel like a relative is pushing for information about your will, it may be necessary to set some firm boundaries.
Usually, a greedy potential heir will test the waters with an older relative in small ways at first, to see how easily that relative can be manipulated. You can keep yourself from being an “easy mark” by putting your estate plans in the hands of an experienced attorney.