Does it worry you? Almost 90% of financial abuse against older Americans is done by someone they know and trust. That's a statistic from the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Don't take the decision of who will manage your finances lightly. We have seven tips to help older Americans choose the right financial caregiver:
1. TRUST. Almost everyone reaches a point where they can no longer conduct financial transactions on their own. At that time, carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all financial matters.
2. KNOWLEDGE. Know who is in your home. There is nothing wrong with completing a background check on individuals you hire for personal care or home care services. Ask for references and credentials before you let them into your personal space.
3. CONSULT. Never sign something you don’t understand. Show it to a separate financial advisor or attorney first. Any document you sign should have a clear purpose.
4. POA. Understand the terms of assigning a Power of Attorney. Someone with POA has authority to act and make decisions on your behalf. This includes managing and having access to your financial accounts.
5. INSTINCTS. Always trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers are very skilled. They can be very charming and forceful in their efforts to exploit you. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be.
6. SAFEGUARD. Safeguard all personal information. Shred old/unneeded bills, junk mail, bank statements and personal documents. Personal documents left around the house could get in the wrong hands, leading to misuse. Opt to store keepsake documents in a locked cabinet or safe deposit box at your bank.
7. PROTECT. Keep personal items out of plain sight. Anyone - even family members - could be desperate enough to take advantage of you. Lock up checkbooks, credit cards and other monetary instruments to prevent unauthorized use.