I see reports about fraud in the family and am never sure who has the right stats. The National Council of Aging reports one set of metrics, and a recent report from AARP says that 75 percent of the abuse is committed by family, friend, or neighbor.
Regardless of the figures, I hope that everyone considers having two set’s of independent eyes on the money. In my family, I did the day-to-day finances, but my siblings had access too, and I reported on the cash flow and expenses. We thankfully, all got along.
For families with siblings that won’t work well together, it might help to look outside the family to set up a way to report on the money. That is one reason I get hired as a Daily Money Manager. I work with the parent, but report to the sibling/financial advisor/estate lawyer. It helps to have two independent individuals with oversight and to provide checks and balances. Hiring a professional can eliminate the conflict that comes with disagreements about money.
I’m troubled as a family caregiver to hear that family is taking advantage of a loved one financially. The story FRAUD in The Family (Feb. 2018) from AARP is a good lesson in the many ways estate plans might fail to serve your best interests.
If you are worried about a loved one, some suggestions include:
- Stay in Touch. You will be surprised by what they might share with you or overhear when you are calling. Skype and Facetime are very helpful since they also let you see the individual as well as get a look at their surroundings to know if the home is being maintained.
- Understand Cognitive Decline. In general, the processing in our brains slows and most notice changes starting in our 50s. If you are noticing cognitive issues or trouble with bills and managing the checkbook, you can suggest getting some help with the day-to-day finances. Beware of setting up auto-payments since once this is done, most people stop looking at their checking and credit card statements. That is very problematic due to the number of fraudsters and scammers. I have only had 1 client this year that wasn’t being charged for things they didn’t order or want.
- Who is in the House? From caregivers that aren’t properly vetted, to renters who are stealing — Understanding who is in the home is important. It helps to take a photo inventory, as well as make frequent and unannounced visits should you find someone is stealing from a loved one.
It stinks that we have to layer onto the loss by bringing in additional oversight and protection. However, it is one way you can ensure your loved one is well-served. Suggested.