Protecting the Financial Health of Your Clients
There has been an alarming increase in cases of elder financial exploitation or scams in recent years. This form of elder abuse is particularly harmful, not only defrauding older individuals of their finances and dignity; it can get quite costly for caregivers as well.
Americans over the age of fifty now hold approximately 83 percent of U.S. assets; many are now vulnerable or physically disadvantaged, making them easy targets. Elder financial fraud can range from stealing cash, property theft, abusing powers of attorney, identity theft, credit card fraud, telemarketing or subscription scams and more. Sadly, most of these scammers are people close to the victims, such as family members or caregivers with fiduciary control.
There are instances where financial abuse took place for years before anyone noticed, due to the elderly victim's isolation, either by choice or by their abusers. These crimes often go unreported, making it even more challenging, with victims feeling embarrassed, experiencing a blow to their self-esteem, or having no choice since they are dependent on their abusers.
Clients will benefit from information on protecting their financial health that certified professionals in the aging industry, including patient advocates, financial planners and insurance providers, can share. As long-term care advisors, we are among the first to recognize the signs of financial abuse or notice the cracks in our client's current financial set-up that scammers can use to their advantage.
Here are a few tips to help keep your clients from being victims of scams:
- Encourage clients to plan early for both expected and unexpected events
- Provide enough time for research, finding alternatives, and deciding which future options are most important and prioritized.
- Keep a list of financial accounts and professionals on call: including lawyers, accountants, healthcare professionals, financial advisors, insurance agents and more.
- Keep track of where all legal documents are located, which financial institutions they are with, including their current status.
- Stay in touch with your client, keeping them up-to-date on eldercare scams. Be transparent about these issues while reassuring clients that there are many solutions to prevent the worst.
Liz Loewy, Esq., shared some thoughts and tips on safeguarding older clients' finances effectively with “Protecting the Financial Health of Your Clients.” She is the co-founder/COO of EverSafe, a technology service that monitors the financial health of the elderly for fraud, identity theft, and age-related issues.
Her guide offers excellent insights on how providing clients with tools to protect from fraud is a great - and necessary - complement to LTC coverage, as well as how it can enrich their twilight years as well.