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Why might you need a power of attorney or health care proxy?

It can be difficult to accept that sometimes cognitive ability declines with age. However, this is a reality you may need to face, especially if you have received a diagnosis of an age-related cognitive impairment, and you are concerned about preserving your estate. You and other New York residents will rightfully want to keep unscrupulous people from getting ahold of your funds, both to keep you comfortable in your golden years and for the benefit of your heirs.

You may be financially savvy, but when cognitive ability declines, so does judgment and impulse control when it comes to money. Unfortunately, scammers who target the elderly are aware of this. As the National Adult Protective Services Association points out, about one out of 20 senior citizens are victims of financial abuse, which may include professional scams and manipulation by caregivers. The following common scams aimed at vulnerable seniors include the following:

  • False sweepstakes and lotteries that announce you are a winner, but you must pay a processing fee before receiving your awards
  • Virus pop-ups claiming a company can clean your computer for a fee, only to make your computer worse off than before
  • Emails falsely claiming to be from a relative saying he or she needs money because of an arrest or because they are stranded
  • Fraudulent phone calls from the IRS or a utility company demanding immediate payment
  • Aggressive marketing and charity scams

In addition to scams targeted at you from strangers, people you know and trust may have dishonest goals in mind regarding your financial affairs. As you age, a caregiver may attempt to deceive or coerce you into signing over bank account access. A nurse, financial advisor or someone you are close to could manipulate you into making him or her the sole beneficiary of your will.

You may be able to protect your estate and yourself from financial exploitation by creating a health care proxy or signing over power of attorney to someone you know you can trust before a cognitive disorder advances to the point where you are unable to manage your finances.

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