Everyone has heard of the financial scams that target vulnerable seniors, even right here in North Carolina. Seniors are a common target for these scams because they often suffer from cognitive impairments that reduce their ability to discern legitimate requests from those that are not.
One common situation is when a scam artist calls an elderly person in the middle of the night, impersonating a grandchild and asking for money because they’re in trouble and don’t want their parents to find out. Another even scarier situation that’s occurred recently is when an unscrupulous relative or friend gains Power of Attorney over an unsuspecting senior. Granting Power of Attorney to someone allows them access to your assets and puts them in a position where they may make financial decisions about your property and assets. While it’s possible to sue to get money back that’s been taken in a Power of Attorney scam, it may come at an extreme financial and emotional cost. It’s better to know how to avoid being put in such a position in the first place.
Here are 3 ways to avoid potential Power of Attorney scams:
Never sign a document without your lawyer reviewing it first
One giant warning sign for a potential Power of Attorney scam is when a relative or friend presents you with Power of Attorney that they’ve taken the liberty to have drawn up. It is extremely important to have your elder law attorney review any financial or legal document before you sign it, no matter how much pressure you may be under.
Craft a limited Power of Attorney
An elder law attorney can advise you about what type of Power of Attorney would be best for you and your situation – Springing or Durable – and what limitations you’d like attached to the Power of Attorney. This can help limit your exposure if a Power of Attorney is used for unscrupulous means, though it can also limit what a trustworthy person can do to assist you when help is actually needed. It’s important to discuss these options with an elder law attorney.
Plan early with trusted family or friends
To avoid a situation where you need a Power of Attorney drafted in emergency, you may want to plan early instead. This way, you’ll have more control over who should be named as your Power of Attorney, and also alert others to your wishes if you’re incapacitated and cannot handle your affairs in the future. An elder law attorney can help you create an estate plan before you actually need one so you may rest assured that your wishes will be fulfilled when the time comes.
If you have questions about your existing Power of Attorney or about setting up an estate plan to ensure you are protected from financial scams, please set up an appointment at our North Carolina elder law office by calling (336) 378-1122.