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Elder Abuse and Financial Abuse

Discussing what needs to be done and planned for when an elderly parent passes away can be a difficult decision for adult children. It can also be challenging to understand what decisions to make for elderly parents on their behalf when they are still alive, but unable to make decisions themselves.

However, these discussions are essential parts of estate planning. Not every family gets the chance to have these conversations while all parties involved have the mental capabilities to do so. It’s best to try and have these discussions earlier as you may not be able to have them later.

Designated Trustees

Estate planning is when an older individual appoints an executor, power of attorney or trustee to carry out his or her wishes. In some cases, however, the designated person or persons may be abusing their position.

A designated trustee or attorney has a specific duty - to administer the estate, or make financial or property decisions in the best interests of the deceased or incapacitated person. Failure to do so can be a case of elder abuse, or financial abuse.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is when someone takes advantage of an older person, either through dependence or influence. Someone guilty of elder abuse is trying to get the elderly to make decisions they wouldn’t normally make. In many cases, this person can be an elderly person’s adult child, caregiver, or someone else who has frequent contact with them.

What is Financial Abuse?

In other cases, when it’s the trustee, executor or power or attorney abusing their power, that is a form of financial abuse. If you are worried that an executor, trustee, or power of attorney is misusing assets or making selfish decisions that would not benefit the estate, you may have grounds to take legal action against that person.

As laid out on the HealthLink BC site, financial abuse can take many forms. It’s important to consult with an estates lawyer to determine what grounds to have to challenge an appointed designee, and what your legal options are to pursue the matter through the courts.

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