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How To Avoid Financial Abuse (AP Newsletter 123)

By November 3, 2011No Comments

Ok, I want you to use your imagination for a moment.

Let’s say you just got off the phone with the bank. They called to tell you that your aging parent – your Dad

– had come into the bank with a “young woman” and had withdrawn $10,000. Oh and the description of

that “young woman” fits his caregiver perfectly.

Dad’s been lonely since Mom died, and the caregiver seemed so nice. She’s been taking care of his meals

and laundry now for a year. OK, so Dad’s got some memory problems, but he used to be an accountant.

He’s alert. He knows about money. Or does he?

If you think this sounds unbelievable, think again. This actually happened — and it could happen to your

aging parent. There have been many more spectacular cases of older rich folks who seem to be taken

advantage of by the caretakers around them. And the fact is this – elder financial abuse happens.

The young woman who got the call from the bank about her dad’s $10,000 withdrawal is a real person

who came to us at for advice.

The first thing we did for her is draft a durable power of attorney for finances (DPOA). This is a legal

document that appoints her as the one to make money decisions if her Dad can’t do that safely anymore.



Note this important point: If you don’t have a DPOA for your aging parent it’s essential that you get one

right now. We’ve made the CA version available to you for free here:

The language varies a bit from state to state, but the basics are the same for any Durable Power of

Attorney. If you need any help, just let us know.


Next, the daughter needed help with what to say to her father. She put it best, “he has dementia, but he still

has a mind of his own.” And after a consultation with her and her father, we determined that despite his early

dementia, Dad was still competent. In fact, Dad was doing pretty well, still living on his own.

He had enough sense to decide if he wanted his daughter to help with finances. He did.
The real problem was, he was lonely. And the crafty caregiver, seeing this, had slowly insinuated herself

into his social life — and he got attached.

He wanted to please her. He needed her. Eventually, she had talked him into giving her a “loan” for her boyfriend

in another country. And he gladly obliged.

His daughter wanted to let him have his independence to the extent possible. It was his money, after all. He’d

worked hard and saved. Maybe he would spend a little too much on this or that, and he could afford that.

But $10,000?

The caregiver was taking advantage of his memory and judgment problems and committing financial elder abuse.

It wasn’t a question of whether or not he could afford a loss of $10,000. If someone steals from you, it’s a crime.

Next, it was time for a difficult conversation with Dad. Here are the steps we urged the daughter to take which you

can do as well, if you find yourself in a similar situation:

– Work with Dad gently and with respect. He was very fond of the caregiver.

– Use the durable power of attorney to manage the checking account.

– Move the larger sums of money Dad had into a new account over which she had total, not joint, control.

– Let Dad still have an account, but with limited funds so he couldn’t be ripped off so badly again. Monitor it closely.

– Report the crime and fire the caregiver.

My husband Dr. Mikol Davis who is psychologist and my partner at, offers this observation on

emotional implications of taking over the checkbook for an aging parent:

“Giving up control over money, especially for men, is like surrendering your shield in the world. You become totally

vulnerable. So we need to respect and acknowledge how difficult it is to let someone else take over care of your

money. That is the first step”

When do we step in and offer to help? What do we say? We have an aging parent too, and we know the territory.

Based on our professional and personal experience, here are 10 Tips To Help Aging Parents Manage Money.

1. Talk Early
If you’re over 50 and your parent is over 70, have a preliminary conversation with him or her about what would

happen if your aging parent could no longer manage money for any reason, such as cognitive impairment. Consider

having your parent sign a durable power of attorney as a precaution.

2. Act Fast, If Needed
If your aging parent is already showing any signs of cognitive impairment, act fast. Get a durable power of

attorney signed and notarized before it’s too late. It’s too late when a parent no longer can make a competent

decisionabout money. If your parent has “early dementia”, do it now.

3. Involve The Whole Family
Have a family discussion, including your aging parent, about who will be in charge if your aging parent loses the

capacity to make safe money decisions. Involve all interested family members. Make agreements and put them

in writing. That way, there’s no second guessing.

4. Be Tactful
If and when the time comes to take over the checkbook, approach your aging parent respectfully and gently. Avoid

bossing him around. Ask permission to raise the subject. Persist.

5. Ask For Outside Help
If you’re not comfortable with the checkbook conversation, because your aging parent is really difficult, get outside

advice on how to do it. If you email us (just hit reply) or call us at (866) 962 – 4464 we can help you through the

process step-by-step.

We also have a guide that we think you’ll find very helpful.

For more information click here-> How to Handle Money for Aging Loved Ones.

Wishing you the best,


-Carolyn & Mikol

Every day, more people tell their friends about us. We’d love if you did the same =)

If you have someone you know with aging parents, forward them this free newsletter.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 July 2010 17:09 )