NAMPA, Idaho — This year, there are more than 6.2 million people in the United States living with some form of Alzheimer's. Many of those require some type of memory care, but financial elder abuse and scams are on the rise.
Recent studies estimate that 39.6% of Americans 65 years of age or older are victims of financial abuse.
According to Joshua Reams, an elder law attorney for Ahrens DeAngeli Law, financial elder abuse is rapidly growing in the United States. In addition to financial abuse, the Better Business Bureau says scams targeting adults 65 years and older are also on the rise.
Neither account for the unique challenges that come with victims suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The increasing numbers of Alzheimer's diagnoses increase your chance of needing some form of in-home, memory care, or skilled nursing facility at some point in your life, making it incredibly important to plan ahead.
"Unfortunately, we see the side effects of improper planning all the time," said Reams.
He strongly encourages anyone 65 years and older to look into these four basic documents:
- Last Will and Testament
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will / Advanced Directive
Reams also advises you to consider looking into different estate planning tools that can be helpful. He recommends starting with the following:
Durable Power of Attorney: For property, business, and financial matters may be the most important of all legal documents when planning for long-term care and incapacity.
Power of Attorney: Appoints an “agent” that can make financial decisions on behalf of the “principal.” The Power of Attorney creates a fiduciary relationship between the agent and the principal. The designation of an agent should not be taken lightly and needs to be carefully considered by the principal.
Principal: Should also name a successor agent in case the primary agent is unable or unwilling to act in that rule. A client should be made aware of the potential for the abuse of power by the agent before finalizing their Power of Attorney. If an agent abuses their powers or reaches beyond those powers designated in the Power of Attorney, certain legal ramifications may occur.
"We usually think about car insurance, health insurance, house insurance and investments and all these kinds of things that, quite frankly, you know the odds of having your house burned down are pretty small. Even the odds of getting into the hospital are about 8 percent so you look at the difference between that and 70 percent chance that you might need long-term care. How come we're not having this conversation early to make sure we're prepared for especially in the area of Alzheimer's and dementia," said Reams.