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Tips on avoiding financial elder abuse

A recent post detailed the story of a self-made millionaire who lost his fortune to two of his children when they took advantage of the power of attorney he had given them in his old age. On the heels of that incident there have been numerous articles written about elder abuse, and how seniors can protect their finances. Here are some strategies provided by financial experts than can be adopted by seniors in Ontario.

An investigator from TD Bank makes the simple but effective suggestion that seniors get to know the staff at their bank, including management and tellers. When bank staff get to know a person and become aware of their spending habits, they may recognize when something seems amiss. Irregular withdrawals, or banking in the company of a stranger, are two of the red flags a teller might notice.

Joint bank accounts are cited as a common way in which elders are taken advantage of. Despite occasional stories detailing the pitfalls of power of attorney, experts still believe this is a more secure route than simply creating a joint bank account where either party can draw from the available funds. Very few restrictions are placed on a joint account, whereas a person with the power of attorney is bound by law to act in the best interest of the other party.

Taking steps to protect one's finances early is also a sound piece of advice from those who know. It may not be something most people want to think about, but planning ahead for the day when one cannot make important decisions for oneself is far better than waiting until that time has already arrived. Taking the time to consult with professionals will lead to a far better plan than rushing when it may already be too late.

A multi-faceted Ontario law firm may be just the right place to begin planning for the future. An experienced attorney can help plan for and establish power of attorney. And should things go wrong, he or she can help deal with a case of elder abuse, should that unfortunately possibility arise.

Source: CBC News - British Columbia, "Elder financial abuse: 5 tips on how to protect yourself and your money", Dec. 7, 2016

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