Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse

America’s vulnerable, graying population, and the concentration of wealth among older adults, has created a massive opportunity for fraud. Hard statistics are not available, but experts suspect that perhaps half a million elderly adults are ripped off by family members, lawyers and accountants every year, potentially taking $2.6 billion from infirm older Americans. The crime is known as elder financial abuse.

An ugly reality: financial abuse of the elderly

Heartbreaking stories like this are way too commonplace. We have had our share of similar, well-publicized problems in Hawaii. A primary mode of elder financial abuse is by the misuse of durable powers of attorney. Powers of attorney can be helpful tools, but they must be carefully managed and maintained, and they must be judiciously granted. It pays to have checks and balances, as well as systems of accountability, in place.

I love you, you’re perfect. Sign here. The world of pre-nuptial agreements

Premarital agreements may not be the most romantic things in the world, nor the easiest to discuss with a prospective spouse. However, they do have a place in estate planning. A scenario we see way too often is where a widowed individual marries late in life and leaves assets to a second spouse. The second spouse subsequently leaves those assets to his or her kids, to the exclusion of the children of the original owner. This is fertile ground for lawsuits and long-term resentments that could easily be avoided with proper planning. A premarital agreement is not necessarily a concession that a marriage work out. In fact, it can promote long-term stability in the marriage, with the added benefits of encouraging friendly relations between the surviving spouse and members of the next generation, as well as between his and her kids after the marital partners are both gone.

Estate Tax Dormant, Billionaire’s Bequest Is Tax-Free – NYTimes.com

Dan L. Duncan, a soft-spoken farm boy who started with $10,000 and two propane trucks, and built a network of natural gas processing plants and pipelines that made him the richest person in Houston, died in late March of a brain hemorrhage at 77. Had his life ended three months earlier, Mr. Duncan’s riches —… Read More »