Elder Abuse – Protecting Yourself with Proper Estate Planning
Unfortunately, elderly people are often the most vulnerable and at risk of being targeted for abuse. It is estimated that around 1 in 6 people aged 60 years and over have experienced some form of abuse in community settings with the most common being of the financial nature. Having a valid Will and Power of Attorney in place are just some of the simple things you can do to protect yourself and your assets as you get older. As experienced and compassionate lawyers, Ringwood locals can rely on Robert Wood and Associates to help with all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Probate and Estate Planning. Read on to learn more about elder abuse and how you can lower the risk.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Described by the World Health Organisation as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes harm to an adult 60 years and older”. Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member, friend, or carer. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological, or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.
Reducing the Risk
Research shows that financial abuse appears to be the most common form of abuse experienced by the elderly, so it is important to plan ahead to protect your rights and choices. You can do this by:
Making a Will
A Will is a vital legal document that helps to ensure your assets will be distributed to the people you want, according to your wishes once you have passed away. With your assets protected, it may make you less likely to fall victim to elder abuse. It is important that you have a valid Will in place whilst you still have mental capacity so discuss your situation today with a reputable lawyer. Ringwood is home to Robert Wood and Associates and our team will guide you on the different ways to protect your property and finances.
Appointing a Power of Attorney
This is a legal document that gives a person or trustee organisation the legal authority to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. There are two types:
- A General Power of Attorney – this can only be used while you have capacity to make decisions for yourself.
- An Enduring Power of Attorney – this allows a nominated person to make financial decisions should you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, for example, due to illness or injury.
Appointing an Enduring Guardian
An Enduring Guardian is a person you choose to make decisions about your health and lifestyle if you can’t. These include lifestyle options, medical treatment, accommodation, and welfare decisions. It cannot be someone who receives payment for taking care of you.
Having appropriate documentation regarding who will be in charge of your affairs and who will have access your property and accounts should you become incapacitated, will help to safeguard yourself from those who may become impatient, and seek to take advantage of your situation. However, sometimes attorneys and guardians are the perpetrators of elder abuse, so it is vital to think carefully about who you appoint. The person or people you appoint should be someone you trust, who knows you well and who can be relied on to make the best decisions for you on your behalf.
Need a Reliable Power of Attorney Lawyer? Melbourne Trusts Robert Wood and Associates
Planning your estate and making the right decisions now will give you the peace of mind that your assets are protected in future and that you will be less likely to be targeted by those loved ones with ‘inheritance impatience’. If you need assistance with your estate planning, or if you have any concerns about elder abuse in your family, contact us today to discuss your options by calling (03) 9762 3877.
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