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Legal guardians can protect the pockets of Virginia's seniors

An elder law expert who spoke at a recent lecture noted that elderly people are often financially exploited by people they trust, such as their children, lawyers, accountants and family planners. In addition, strangers such as cold callers using high-pressure sales techniques frequently exploit unsuspecting seniors. Elderly people are more susceptible than others to such schemes, especially when they have poor physical or emotional health, or when they lack the ability to make sound financial decisions.

According to a report issued by MetLife Mature Market Institute, wrongdoers commonly use deceit, threats and emotional manipulation to take advantage of their elderly victims. In 2011, victims of elder financial abuse lost a combined total of at least $2.9 billion, the report said. This staggering number is due in part to the fact that it can be hard for others to notice the signs of elder financial exploitation. While a concerned person might be able to view account statements of the person who is being exploited, but that can be tricky. But it is important: careful estate planning that has been done might be undone by just one unscrupulous person.

The lecture emphasized the importance of elderly people setting up contingency plans relying on someone they trust. This could be in the form of a power of attorney or guardianship. These are two ways in which a court can grant individuals the power to make financial decisions on behalf of elderly people who trust them.

In states like Virginia with high senior populations, financial exploitation of the elderly has reached unprecedented levels. Nationwide, 70 percent of those engaged in financial exploitation schemes are family members of the elderly victim.

Source: TheLedger.com, "FSC Lecture Series Aims to Protect Elderly," Elvina Nawaguna, Feb. 24, 2012

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