Seniors make up the fastest growing demographic in Canada. With greater numbers than ever reaching their golden years, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the types of abuse that can affect older Canadians.
On June 15, we recognize this important issue with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Elder abuse can take many forms, but one of the most common is financial abuse. Simply put, financial abuse of elders is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds, property, or resources.
Here’s what it can look like:
- Taking an older person’s money, property or possessions without permission
- Forging someone’s signature
- Using a credit card without permission
- Influencing a senior to sign a will, deed, or power of attorney through deception, coercion, or undue influence
- Con artists that use deception to gain a victim’s confidence and then asking for money
- Promising lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise
- Telemarketing scams that use scare tactics or exaggerated claims to get them to send money or provide credit card authorization
So, what can you do? Here’s a few things to think about.
Establish A Power of Attorney (POA)
Having a Power of Attorney (POA) lets someone choose who will support them when they can’t manage their finances on their own. Talk to family members about who they have chosen to be their attorney and what safeguards have been included to protect their money.
Think Twice About Joint Accounts
Often people think that by adding someone to the account it will make it easier for everyone involved, but that isn’t necessarily so. Once someone is a signer on an account they can do whatever they like with the money. If your loved one is talking about adding a signer to their accounts, this is a big warning sign.
Co-Signing Loans—Understand the Risks
Often families want to support each other and help younger members start off strong. One way to assist financially is to co-sign for a mortgage or a loan. However, when co-signing, you may not be aware of all of the financial risks involved. One option is getting independent legal counsel to be sure that you understand the risks fully. If you have concerns about your loved-one taking on debt for someone else, recommend talking to a lawyer first.
Talk to Your Credit Union
We are here for all our members. If you’d like to discuss how to plan your future for when you age, or to start preparing for the aging of your loved ones, we can help.
Just in time for WEAAD, we’re offering a helpful booklet in branches for members. It’s provided by the Government of Manitoba and is a great resource for POA, wills and health care directives.