“Most financial exploitation is perpetrated by family members or caregivers at an intimate level,” observes Leah Nichaman, founder and president of Everyday Money Management, a fee-based Rockville, Md. firm that helps seniors with financial matters.
Seniors often need a trusted adviser to help them manage their financial affairs. Unfortunately, she says, too many advisers attempt to control the senior—and their money—through emotional or psychological abuse. “Having an objective third party involved makes exploitation less likely to happen in the first place,” says Nichaman. “It’s also more likely to be detected if it does occur.”
“It’s important to make sure that your financial life is transparent to at least one other trusted person. The ideal relationship would be an attorney, money manager, financial adviser and family members, all working together.”
To avoid scams, Nichaman offers these prevention tips:
- Identify a trusted individual to have power of attorney over your funds. It should be someone willing to accept fiduciary responsibility who can document everything and act as a legal agent.
- Establish transparency. Be sure to specify how this individual can use money, his or her powers and boundaries, and who else can see what’s going on.
- Use direct deposit and lock up the checkbook. Seniors often have increased traffic of persons passing through their homes. Remove these temptations.
- Have someone review monthly statements. This is especially important with automated payments.
- Choose a financial adviser who is not tied to any specific product. Seek out an independent adviser with a broad perspective.