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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

California family members should beware of elder financial abuse


People in California know that senior citizens are among the most vulnerable members of society. As their health and mental ability sometimes starts to fade with age, family members and loved ones are faced with the difficult decision of what to do to provide for their care and keep them safe. Unfortunately, while loved ones are planning for their well-being, there are others out there with nasty intentions of exploiting them and taking their hard-earned wealth.

People age 65 or older make up roughly 13 percent of the total population today, which means that there are a lot of targets out there for scam artists and con men who want to take financial advantage of the elderly. According to a recent study of elder abuse in another state, around 4 percent of all senior citizens were the victims of serious financial abuse. And while the federal government is stepping up efforts to stop elder abuse, there is only so much they can do.

The solution to elder financial abuse starts with the family members. It is a difficult responsibility to take on, but the harm that results when no steps are taken far exceeds the difficulty of having a frank conversation with an elderly loved one. A durable power of attorney is a legal transfer of authority to a designated representative who is tasked with making important legal or financial decisions for a senior citizen who may become incapacitated by mental or physical illness.

Powers of attorney may be granted for specific purposes, including solely for health care decisions or for making important financial or legal transactions. The scope and authority of the POA is flexible enough to provide for nearly any family's situation. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced estates and trusts attorney, it is very easy for Sacramento residents to set up a durable power of attorney for a struggling loved one.

Source: Healthline News "U.S. Official: Elder Abuse Is 'Broad and Widespread'," David Heitz, Jan. 27, 2014

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My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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