June 2022 Newsletter
June 2022 Issue
How to Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect in Older Adults
Elder abuse is when a trusted caregiver or other adult knowingly harms someone over the age of 60. Elder abuse is a serious problem that can have long term, harmful effects on victims. Abuse on older adults is not always obvious for loved ones to identify. Abuse can happen in many places, including the victim’s home, a family member’s house, or a nursing home. Abuse is most often done by ones closest to the victim.
In order to prevent elder abuse we must identify signs early and help to stop abuse from happening in the first place.
There are five common types of elder abuse:
This type of abuse is done when an elder adult is deprived of their basic needs: food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, or required medical services. Signs of neglect can include unusual weight loss, bedsores, or poor hygiene.
2. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is intentional and is the result of force, typically hitting, slapping, pushing, or burning. Withholding food or proper medical care is also a form of abuse. Signs of elder abuse can be unexplained bruises or scars, broken bones, broken eyeglasses, or sudden behavior changes.
3. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse can involve threats, isolation, humiliation, or anything that inflicts emotional stress or pain. Signs of emotional abuse include withdrawing from daily activities, developing unusual soothing behaviors such as sucking, biting, or rocking, physical signs of distress.
4. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is very common, especially when the victim is in the hospital or nursing home. It is estimated that elder victims of financial abuse lose nearly $36.5 billion annually. Financial abuse can be prevented by regularly checking bank and credit card statements. It is important to review wills and other legal documents regularly. Install a safe in the home for items such as jewelry and cash.
5. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual interaction or harassment. Signs of sexual abuse are vaginal bleeding, unexplained STDs, bruising around the genitals or breasts.
Keep them close
When possible have your elder loved ones stay close by. When older adults feel like they are a burden, they are less likely to ask for help when they need it. Regular contact allows you to learn their habits and activities and will be more vigilant to any abrupt changes to their routine.
Educate them about fraud and relevant scams
Seniors are especially vulnerable to fraud. Oftentimes fraud or theft is done by someone an elder person trusts. Let your senior know to be aware of relatives and friends that ask for important information such as social security numbers, credit card information, or claiming to have an emergency such as a car repair or bill.
Elder abuse will not stop on its own. Many older adults are ashamed and embarrassed to report abuse. In some cases, they may even fear reporting abuse. If you think someone you know is being abused, offer to take them to get help, assure their safety and contact the proper authorities.
Lannik Law does not litigate elder abuse cases and recommends that if you suspect elder abuse you contact https://www.mass.gov/reporting-elder-abuse-neglect
At Lannik Law, we believe the best prevention against elder abuse is to discourage it in the first place. Abuse is often motivated by greed. Therefore Lannik Law recommends that our clients take the “greed factor” out of the equation by proper planning and benevolent family involvement where appropriate. Setting up a senior’s estate and protecting it against the reach of bad actors is the best defense we know against fiscal and even physical abuse.
Reporting Elder Abuse & NeglectElder abuse includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, caretaker neglect, financial exploitation, and self neglect.
Elder Abuse reports can be filed 24 hours a day either online (see instructions below) or by phone at (800) 922-2275. Elder abuse includes: physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, caretaker neglect, financial exploitation and self-neglect. Elder Protective Services can only investigate cases of abuse where the person is age 60 and over and lives in the community. To report abuse of a person with a disability under the age of 60, call the Disabled Persons Protection Commission at (800) 426-9009. To report abuse of a person by nursing home or hospital, call the Department of Public Health at (800) 462-5540. Call 911 or local police if you have an emergency or life-threatening situation.
What Are the Risks of Marrying Late in Life?
When you’re ready to tie the knot, it is unlikely that you are “counting the costs” of marriage. However, when two people marry later in life, the financial costs can be significant. The older you are, the more likely that you have acquired more possessions, property, assets, and in a lot of cases, you may have children from previous relationships. It is important for couples to have difficult financial conversations sooner than later.
While it is difficult for couples of any age to navigate through combining finances, the older you are, the more likely you are to be set in your spending habits and money management styles. If either party has minor children from a previous relationship, it brings additional issues of paying or receiving child support payments. When there are adult children and grandchildren, inheritance is often a pressing and delicate subject.
Inheritance and property laws can vary significantly by state, so it is important to discuss financial goals and wishes PRIOR to marriage. Below are a few things to consider before walking down the aisle.
- Be open about debt
- Be honest about what you hope to leave to your children or family
- What will you own together?
- What are your burial wishes? Would you like to be buried by your children or even a previous spouse?
- Discuss your estate planning plan. Do you wish to update wills, life insurance policies, and beneficiaries?
- Discuss your retirement goals
- How will you pay for major events such as college or marriage of a child?
- Do you have a formal legal agreement for custody and child support of a former spouse or partner?
- What are your long term care wishes?
Many financial planners, estate planners, and accountants also advise to consider a prenuptial agreement when marrying later in life. In most states, all assets and income become community property after marriage. A prenuptial agreement can help determine what will be left to each of your families if you divorce or die. A prenup can also stop your spouse from challenging your will or a preexisting trust.
Marriage can affect every aspect of your financial life. It is important to discuss finances with each other as well as with a certified public accountant and an estate planning attorney before your big day. The good news is, once these difficult financial conversations are out of the way and details have been agreed on, you can settle in with your new spouse and enjoy a life happily ever after.
In most states, all assets and income become community property after marriage. Massachusetts law is different, we are not a community property state, but rather an equitable division state. In Massachusetts a judge will divide marital assets equitably (fair) but not necessarily equally.
A Personal Note From Susana
We produced our article on marriage late in life or second marriage, to be helpful to those clients who want to “take the plunge again.” Sometimes passion overtakes due consideration of all of the items that are described there. The consequences of failure to address estate planning issues in the context of a second marriage can be problematic, especially if there are children involved.
It does not matter how old the children are or how long or how wonderful the second marriage is, or even where insurance is provided to this set of children from the first marriage, they feel they’ve been “disinherited” when a second spouse is involved.
Many people, in an effort to reduce complexity decide that they will just do a simple will and rely on the surviving second spouse to “give the children from the first marriage everything that remains from the first spouse’s estate following the second spouse’s death.” I have found that this almost never works, even when the deceased parent has given the second spouse everything except generous proceeds from an insurance policy.
So, what is a family to do? First, if it is a second marriage, the surviving spouse may be provided for during his or her lifetime through a trust with the remains in the trust going to the children, instead of leaving it up to the surviving spouse to “be good or be generous” in his or her will.
Second, do provide insurance if the second spouse is to inherit everything else, but consider if the insurance is commensurate with what “everything else” might be. For example, I had a case where a $ 2M life insurance policy was approximately 17% of $12,000,000. Is that enough? Maybe, maybe not, depending on what might be left over upon the death of the second spouse. And the cost of the insurance yearly must be a factor.
Many people might find all of this painful but a very productive exercise would be to have a sit- down family meeting to discuss how things might work.