According to a recent study by the Investor Protection Trust and Investor Protection Institute, the top three ways that the elderly could be financially exploited are:
- Theft of funds or property by family members
- Theft of funds or property by caregivers
- Financial scams by strangers
It is estimated that one in nine seniors has been a victim of financial abuse in the past year, so what can you do to protect elderly parents from financial fraud? Here are some tips:
Seek out a financial abuse prevention seminar in your local area. Many senior centers and organizations provide these programs, so choose one and go with your parent(s) as an opportunity to do something social with them.
Put your parents’ finances on auto-pilot by enrolling them in direct deposit for Social Security, pension, retirement and investment income. Set up automatic bill pay for as many bills as possible, and help them pay their bills online.
Check in with them frequently and ask them directly if they have been solicited by anyone who visited or called. If you live nearby, visit in person.
Some experts advise those with elderly parents who become incapable of handling investments to invest a portion of their retirement income into a low-cost, immediate-fixed or inflation-adjusted annuity from a reputable insurance company. This will provide a guaranteed lifetime income that cannot be lost to fraud or abuse.
If a parent’s savings are still in their former employer’s 401(k) plan, consider keeping it there. These plans are strictly regulated for the exclusive benefit of employees, and may yield the best investment deal possible.
If you’d like to learn more about estate planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.