Many times, this means adult children who have been given power of attorney, as well as other loved ones who pitch in to help when something is needed.
These caregivers often spend so much time with the senior, they are privy to unpleasant situations such as family fighting or elderly scams when they arise.
And, often it is the caregiver who is left to pick up the pieces.
I want to discuss some legal issues which I often see facing well-meaning caregivers and how to avoid financial and legal pitfalls when caring for someone you love.
A huge problem many caregivers face is an unscrupulous sibling or an adult child who takes advantage of the elderly parent.
This is the person who always finds ways to “freeload” off of the parent by asking for money, gifts, and special favors, which the parent cannot afford.
Out of love and concern for the senior, many caregivers find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to confront the sibling or adult child. While it’s no fun, it may be necessary to step in and put a stop to this behavior for the senior’s long-term security and protection.
If you are facing this issue, you should know it is much easier to stop financial abuse if the senior has a power of attorney in which you are named. This allows you significantly more control over the situation. But, even then, it can be difficult to convince the parent to stop funding the sibling’s bad behavior.
It may ultimately be necessary to call a family meeting with your elder attorney and allow the senior to see the danger of this behavior from a 3rdparty source.
Let’s move on now to another issue facing caregivers – when a sibling or adult child falsely accuses the caregiver of misconduct.
It could be the sibling just doesn’t understand the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of the parents, or the sibling could be jealous of the caregiver’s relationship with the parent. Or, it could simply be greed coming into play. The sibling or adult child may want to inherit as much money as possible from the estate and fear the caregiver will get a larger cut.
Again, your job in confronting these issues will be significantly easier if you have the right legal documents in place from the start.
Now all of these issues with unscrupulous family members are certainly disheartening for a well-meaning caregiver. But protecting seniors from strangers and scammers is another important issue to address.
There are many people who prey on the elderly and will try to sell bogus or unnecessary insurance policies, annuities, living trusts, sweepstakes or flat-out rob a senior of their identity. Caregivers need to be vigilant about this and strive to keep their vulnerable loved ones protected.
Another area where scammers can sneak into an elderly person’s life is in the form of a lover. This is a boyfriend or girlfriend who quickly attaches themselves to the senior’s side. Sometimes these individuals may be considerably younger—and are commonly referred to as “gold diggers.”
These people flatter the elderly person and provide him or her with attention, which is often mistaken for love. But instead, what the “lover” is really interested in is bleeding the elderly person’s bank account dry. He or she may even be angling to be named in the will. The senior may be blind to these tactics, but often the caregiver can see what’s really happening behind the scenes.
Again, this is why it makes sense for the caregiver to have a strong relationship with the senior’s attorney to stay abreast of options and protections against unscrupulous people and alleged lovers.
If you are currently facing any of these situations caring for an elderly loved one and don’t have a relationship with an elder attorney, we invite you to call our office at 817.462.5454 to discuss your options.