Cowardly is the only way to describe people who target those living with Alzheimer’s for the purposes of financial gain.
Statistics show these people are most likely to be your family, friends or neighbours. It is deeply hurtful to even remotely consider that someone from your most trusted group of allies could be intending to take advantage of you when you are most vulnerable. However, avoiding this issue only leaves you more vulnerable. Some estimates in the U.S. peg financial elder abuse and scams at a rate of 20% for those over age 65¹. Your best line of defense is to increase your awareness on some of the more typical financial threats so you can remain in control of your financial assets even as the disease progresses and substitute decision-makers get involved.
Communications – Avoiding a Breakdown
Open up communications with those people who will assist you in managing your financial assets and clarify your intended use for these assets. For example, if you are concerned about those closest to you experiencing caregiver stress, encourage them to use some of the money for caregiving assistance and respite care relief as needed. This does two things: it removes any guilt on others who are ‘spending your money’ for caregiving; and, it helps ensure that if someone is likely to receive a gift from your estate and is worried about assets dwindling unnecessarily they will be unable to assert their opinion since you have already expressed your instructions. Share with your trusted team that it is okay and even common for disagreements to arise over the best use of financial assets since the situation is emotionally charged. Encourage each person to share their point of view but to remember the primary goal is your well-being. Above all, request that no person hoards information. Suggest a monthly meeting of your key support group and remind them to ensure you are included as long as it is physically possible.
There is no need for anyone to know the directions contained in your will.
Unfortunately your estate may be the motivating factor for some family, friends and even charitable organizations to stay in touch with you. Sometimes threats of abandonment or neglect are suggested to encourage you to modify your will. This is elder abuse. There is no need for anyone to know the directions contained in your will. The document can remain private until your death. You may find yourself worrying that your need for future caregiving may be withheld if certain persons are not sure they will receive a bequest. In this case your best protection is to discuss your concerns with legal counsel. Also alert legal counsel to potential problems that could arise when your estate is settled. Your lawyer will have ideas on how to protect you and your estate. Do not be embarrassed to share your concerns with legal counsel. This is a familiar situation for lawyers.
Advances on Estates
“You’re not using the money” is one of the more common forms of financial pressure, often from adult children or grandchildren. The individual knows they are likely to receive money from your estate but they want the money now. There will be an urgent need such as a down payment for a car or even a home. If you are considering an advance, please involve legal counsel. Clear documentation of the advance is needed, clarifying the amount, a future valuation calculation, and the intention to deduct this amount from the estate distribution. The greatest concern with this situation is that the advance may exceed the value of the inheritance. For example, if the will indicates that your son will receive 20% of the estate but your care costs have reduced the total estate, the 20% gift may be less than the value of the advance.
You will never be able to fully protect your assets. You also cannot prevent the breakdown of relationships that may occur as your adult children, siblings or others you trust disagree on your care and associated financial issues. Everyone needs to be flexible, placing your needs first and willingly build relationships by working as a team to ensure your well-being. By establishing a well-informed team now you can help reduce the likelihood of financial threats.
¹Source: Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)
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About the author
Lee Anne Davies
The author of this website is not licensed, and does not purport to provide any investment, financial, legal, medical or other professional advice. The information contained herein is provided for general informational and educational purposes only, and does not constitute personal advice. Specifically, it does not and cannot take into account your individual circumstances, objectives or needs. Do not use, rely upon or treat any information obtained through this website as a substitute for personalized professional advice. Prior to making any decisions relating to your particular needs or circumstances, you should consider the appropriateness of the information and perform your own independent due diligence, including obtaining independent advice from medical, financial, legal, and/or other professionals, as necessary. Neither Agenomics nor Lee Anne Davies nor 1505778 Ontario Inc. makes any representation or warranty as to the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of the views, opinions and other information that are contained on this website at any time, and you acknowledge and agree that any reliance upon or use of any information made available on or through this website is entirely at your own risk. Under no circumstances will Dr. Lee Anne Davies or Agenomics or 1505778 Ontario Inc. be liable for any losses, costs or damages of any kind, arising directly or indirectly from the use or reliance upon any information made available through this website. The information on this website is subject to change at any time without notice.