The incidence of seniors who are victims of financial exploitation is rising; here are six tips on how seniors can protect themselves:
- Create a Florida estate plan with the help of a professional, trustworthy Florida estate planning attorney while you are still healthy and mentally fit. This is perhaps the most meaningful way to protect your assets, but choose your agents and trustees wisely.
- Choose an agent or power of attorney with great care, and do not let yourself be pressured into changing agents against your better judgment. For example, a trusted friend is probably a better choice than an adult child with out-of-control debt or a substance abuse problem.
- Open a “convenience account” at your local bank rather than adding an adult child to the account as an owner. A convenience account will allow somebody else to write checks and pay bills, but will not make them an “owner” of the account. That could be especially important for asset protection if the child has debts they cannot pay. If they are an owner on the account, your assets are fair game for debt collectors.
- Keep control of your assets. Do not start signing over assets you need to meet expenses simply so your heirs can avoid probate. Florida probate can be an expensive hassle, but setting up a Trust can help avoid probate and protect your assets.
- Do not add an adult child to the title of your house. Your house could be in jeopardy if the child ends up in financial trouble. Your child’s creditor can go after your house to settle debts if the child’s name is on the title.
- Tell somebody you trust if a relative or friend is financially pressuring you to do something you do not want to do. The trusted person can intervene on your behalf.
At The Estate, Trust and Elder Law Firm, P.L. we help our Treasure Coast clients develop and implement comprehensive estate planning strategies personally tailored to their unique situation, needs, and goals. Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.