Be proactive

Take precautions now to defend yourself later

Organize your financial affairs
No matter how old you are, it’s a good idea to update and organize all your financial documentation, including your will, financial powers of attorney, real estate deeds, insurance policies, pension and trust documents, birth and marriage certificates, and Social Security paperwork. Maintaining an organized file and helping others (such as a parent, uncle, or close friend) do the same can make it easier to spot the inconsistencies and red flags that could signal financial abuse.

A pair of eyeglasses laying on a computer keyboard.

Make a list of financial contacts.
Bankers, insurance agents, attorneys, accountants, stockbrokers, and other professionals should be on it. Share your list with your Financial Advisor and with family members you trust.

An older gentleman using a laptop in a field, while sitting on the tailgate of his pick-up truck.

Keep a watchful eye.
An older person could be at risk for exploitation if he or she feels socially isolated, has suffered a recent loss, or has physical or mental disabilities. Be especially vigilant if the individual is unfamiliar with his or her finances or has family members who are struggling financially or have substance abuse problems. Look out for financial mishandling, which can include anything from the use of property or belongings without permission to persuading someone to sign a deed, will, or power of attorney through deception or coercion. If you notice any sudden changes in your family member’s health, social life, or spending habits, ask about the reasons for the shift.

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