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Protecting Against Elder Fraud

Older Americans are perhaps the most vulnerable targets of financial fraud. In fact, according to a new survey from the American Institute of CPAS, in the last five years elder fraud has increased 47 percent. However, the AICPA PFP Trends Survey found that fraud against the elderly, in most cases, causes more of an emotional impact (37 percent) than a financial impact (5 percent).

Perpetrators of elder financial fraud include family members, non-family caregivers, businesses and strangers. Furthermore, the types of elder financial fraud vary from caregivers stealing money from an elder person to business elder fraud, which includes life and health insurance misrepresentation, predatory lending, bogus investment scams, securities fraud, so-called Internet lotteries and email scams.

And, with the U.S. population continuing to age, this trend will likely continue to move forward. The key to combating it is for CPA financial planners to create a solid plan to protect their elderly clients' assets.

Here are five tips to consider when helpingelderly clients protect their assets in their golden years:
1. Establish a financial plan and review it every six months.
Make sure assets on hand match what is accounted for in the plan and review it every six months to make sure there are enough assets to match the plan. Be sure to disclose any financial discrepancy in elderly clients' accounts.
2. Have regular checks and balances.
The client's support members should be identified. They include professionals, designees, those who have the authority over health-care concerns and loved ones. Communication among the members is important, as it provides checks and balances, an important aspect of stopping fraud, according to the survey.
3. Involve children and spouses in meetings.
The survey found that 77 percent of the time spouses are involved in elder planning meetings and that 37 percent of the time adult children are involved. It is important to have children involved in meetings because it gives them a clearer picture of family assets and helps them be better prepared in times of need.
4. Tell clients to say, "You need to check with your financial advisor."
Get your clients in the habit of checking in. So if anyone comes with sales or investment deals, they can invoke a need to check with the advisor. Also, remind elderly clients to notify you of any mail, emails or phone calls that try to solicit any kind of purchase.
5. Set up a Revocable Living Trust and make a will.

In some cases, it makes sense to put elderly clients' assets in a Revocable Living Trust and assign a co-trustee. This can reduce any chances of an elderly client giving to unscrupulous people. In addition, it is important for clients to make a will. This helps to clear up any questions about how a client wants his or her assets distributed.

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