Did you know that statistics surrounding seniors and scams continue to rise? Research shows us that the alarming trend of scammers targeting the older generation increases each year, and shows no sign of stopping. From telephone solicitors to email scams to print mail efforts, there are multiple ways that criminals try to reach the elder, and potentially more vulnerable, population.

As an adult child, or a senior yourself, what can you do to ensure that you are protected in the event a scammer tries to gain access to personal, healthcare, or financial information? We know how difficult talking to your aging parents about senior scams can be. None of us want to discuss a potential situation where we may be at risk of a crime. We need to understand, however, what is facing us and our parents just by simply answering the telephone or opening an email.

This time of year, especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner, highlights an increased risk of exposure. Let us share three steps you can take right now to protect yourself and your loved ones from this form of abuse here in our blog.

1. Update your estate planning. You never want to leave your estate planning needs to chance. Not only do you need your last will and testament or trust agreement to work for you, but also, your health care decision making documents and your durable power of attorney need to work for you under all scenarios. Your decision makers need to know who is in charge and who has legal authority to act for you should you be incapable of acting for yourself. Do not put off discussing any changes or updates you need with your attorney at your earliest convenience.

2. Talk about your concerns, and the risks, openly. You and your aging loved ones may not know just how aggressive scammers and criminals can be. While you should not have to be afraid of answering the phone or opening an email, that is the reality today. Each of us needs to be on guard against these potential issues. Discuss it as a family, with all generations present, and brainstorm ways to get help where you need it.

3. Discuss potential future scenarios relating to long-term care needs. Although this may seem far in the future, it may not be. None of us know what the future holds. The key is to be prepared for any scenario and to know what your wishes are. Scammers prey on uncertainty and, unfortunately, can arise in family caregiver settings. Discussing what your wishes are now and developing a plan to protect your assets at a time when you may not be able to make choices for yourself, is critical.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Do not put off getting the advice you need or avoid talking to your aging parents about senior scams. We encourage you to contact our law office and schedule a meeting to discuss this, or any estate planning or elder law issue.