Scams targeting the elderly abound. From Medicare and health insurance scams to telemarketing/phone scams and sweepstakes/lottery scams and more, the elderly are vulnerable. Why? Fraudsters assume that the elderly are lonely, willing to listen, more trusting than younger individuals, and may have disposable income to spare. Individuals suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are particularly susceptible to being taken in by one of these cons.
The signs of dementia may not be noticeable in the early stages in which a person can carry on with activities of daily living such as running errands and paying bills with little or no assistance. With progression of the disease, the individual’s ability to make sound judgments may suffer. If that person still has the power to make his or her own financial decisions, he or she is vulnerable to fraud. Such an individual may need to grant financial decision-making power to a trusted, non-impaired adult. If the individual still has capacity, he or she can appoint an agent through a Power of Attorney to make financial decisions. However, a Power of Attorney typically does not prevent the individual from making his or her own decisions; rather, it just grants power to an agent to act as well.
If the person is incapacitated and cannot grant a Power of Attorney, a Conservatorship may be in order. A Conservatorship proceeding, like a Guardianship proceeding, is a legal process in which a ward’s rights are removed and a conservator is appointed to make financial decisions for the ward. The conservator handles the financial matters and property of a ward whereas the guardian makes medical and personal decisions. Both processes require that the proposed ward be deemed incompetent and require that a legal procedure be followed. These processes have been explored more fully in previous blog posts.