ElderLaw News-The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News
ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

In An Era of Elder Abuse, How Can You Prevent Exploitation?

Virginia’s Adult Protective Services (APS) department noted a 53% increase in reports of abuse for the year 2014.

It is, however, believed that despite these numbers, as a result of social isolation, family involvement, reluctance to report, or lack of education, elder abuse remains an under reported epidemic.

Elder abuse, as defined by the Older Americans Act, is defined as, “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish including deprivation by a person, including a caregiver, of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.” Exploitation is defined as, “fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets..” According to the National Research Council, exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse.

So, how do you protect yourself as aging occurs? While difficult to answer, the solution lies in understanding the risk factors and what preventative measures may be available.

It is often understood that those with cognitive impairment are at the greatest risk of falling victim to exploitation and that victimizers are usually close to the victim. While a number of factors may lead someone to exploit another, some common risk factors include: caregiver stress, depression, substance abuse, financial problems, social isolation, family issues, and illness.

Obviously one of the best ways to prevent exploitation is to prevent isolation and engage in communication with other close friends and family members. Additionally, you should use professionals to ensure that financial and legal affairs are in order. By using professionals, you can attempt to minimize undue influence and build a relationship that may protect you when unusual activity begins to occur.

It is also important to understand that your estate plan is much more than a number of forms and that your agent understands that, as a fiduciary, they have duties to you and that their powers may be more limited than what they may perceive.

A properly drafted estate plan should have safeguards centered on your particular situation. Some alternatives to consider may include appointing co-agents who can check on what the other has done on your behalf and requiring your agent to produce an accounting.

Since it often difficult to recover misused or stolen funds, you may desire to ensure there are safeguards in place that would ensure reimbursement for such funds. For example, you may consider utilizing a professional agent who is insured and/or bonded for his/her services. In some circumstances, you may also want to consider a guardianship and conservatorship so that your agent is not only required to post a bond, but his/her actions will be routinely reviewed by the local court.


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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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