Seeing your parents age can be bittersweet. As they get older, you may feel more drawn to them, both to seek comfort in their presence as well as check in on their general wellbeing. As many with aging parents are aware, cognitive decline is a common pattern. While your parents might playfully refer to them as “senior moments,” that lack of critical thinking often makes it harder for them to process information and can leave them vulnerable to abuse.
While the term “abuse” for many brings up images of violence, for elders a very widely seen form is actually finance-based. And because many elderly folks seek to put the affairs of their estate together, that financial abuse can come from those they lean on for help, which could mean their relatives or even their children.
When an estate plan has been altered
As widely reported as financial abuse is, many say it is also criminally underreported, which gives you an idea of just how widespread it could be. One telltale sign can lie within the text of a parent’s will and estate plan. When asset allocation seems skewed more towards a certain sibling or person in general, and/or changes have been recent, that could be cause to raise concern and dispute an estate plan.
There are also telltale signs of general financial abuse. Lynette Khalfani-Cox wrote an article for AARP talking more about what families might be able to expect. For instance, while approaching the subject of someone’s addiction is one to be done with the utmost care, the fact remains that addictions are often expensive to maintain, and could make financial abuse more likely. Particular vices are far from the only catalyst for financial abuse. Khalfani-Cox also references family members living with their parents and generally just being closer to their mom or dad (or whatever the relationship may be).
Even if a sibling is taking advantage of a parent, it can be difficult to figure out how to approach the subject. While there are resources available to help one’s family get to the bottom of an issue, a qualified professional counsel can often help when an estate dispute arises and needs to be addressed in a professional manner.