Seniors: Protect Assets When You Need Care

The late actor Mickey Rooney, at age 90, testified dramatically before Congress. He complained of verbal and physical abuse at home by close relatives who took care for his daily needs. He also accused them of unauthorized taking of his money.

Unfortunately, this situation isn’t unusual. Today’s volatile economy makes it even more prevalent. For example, a low-income heir who must feed his own family can be tempted to take money from his still-living elderly parent’s estate. If he has power of attorney, he may rationalize that it’s not wrong to use money that will soon be his.

There are ways for dependent seniors to avoid the problem:

1. With a trustworthy family attorney, have private consultations about keeping total legal control of your estate. Get advice on protecting assets that are vulnerable to be taken without your specific permission. Learn how to avoid physical and/or financial abuse.

Arrange another attorney meeting to include heirs who have legal access to your assets. Discuss what you and the attorney have decided for your protection. The meeting should be cordial and open for questions.

2. If still in your home or living with an heir, try to fit in without disrupting family schedules. Consider a home health professional to visit you several days a week. That could lessen your daily care burdens on your family.

3. Unless it becomes absolutely necessary, don’t be moved into a nursing home. If you’ve ever visited one, you understand that at best, they’re unpleasant. At worst, nothing more than minimum care warehouses for helpless old people waiting to die.

Nursing homes charge $5,000 and and more per month, with inflated costs ever increasing. Many upscale facilities also require an admission fee of from $25,000 and up, plus extra charges for medications, laundry, food and other money-draining costs.

When an heir considers placing you in a nursing home against your wishes, offer a simple explanation of why it is a bad idea for the heir. They should realize the moment you enter, their inheritance money will begin draining away very quickly.

You’ve worked hard all your life and managed to accumulate a comfortable estate. Now, elderly and dependent on daily care, you expect them to show honesty, respect and consideration. However, you must also have firm legal means to protect yourself against potential emotional, physical or financial abuse.

Frankly, considering the stark financial and physical needs of nursing home care, this 92-year-old prays it won’t happen.

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