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Many Seattle residents have probably heard at least one horror story of the financial abuse of an elder. Unfortunately, these issues are becoming more common with an increasing growth in the elder population. Recent reports have highlighted a service extended for a short time in early November to assist elders with financial advice that could prevent this kind of financial abuse and create positive benefits, one of which being the preservation of a living will.

Financial fraud against the elder population has increased, and the purpose of the recent program, which was called Prevent Elder Financial Abuse Call-In, was to provide a nationwide hotline to prevent seniors from becoming victims of fraud. The program was managed by healthcare and financial planners, and for a few hours offered advice on how to protect oneself from being the victim of financial fraud. The call-in service also provided fraud-prevention advice to adults who are caring for elder parents.

Without a living will or clearly specified end-of-life wishes or proper estate planning, it can be very easy for an elder to be taken advantage of financially. One woman in a recent news report stated that a young woman who was living with her had pushed the older woman into handing over her retirement money. Unfortunately, many elders who are taken advantage of don't live long enough to see responsible parties held accountable, and the elders' potential heirs don't realize an abuse has happened until it is too late.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Investor Protection Trust, which was sponsoring the program, said that as many as 7.3 million Americans have been victimized by this kind of fraud. With the holidays coming up, professionals who deal in preventing the financial abuse of elders say that this may be the best time for adult children to have a financial talk with their elder parents. Unfortunately, the holidays also make for a prime time for scammers to try to access the finances of unsuspecting elders.

Although this nationwide hotline has already ended, the professionals who managed the program are hoping there will be more like it in the future. Elders who are concerned about issues such as financial fraud should seek advice from their adult children or from legal professionals skilled in these areas. In the state of Washington, an attorney who is familiar with the laws regarding estate and trust planning can provide significant benefits to elders who are concerned about being swindled out of everything they have spent their lives saving.

Source: washingtonpost.com, "How to help fight fraud against the elderly," Michelle Singletary, Nov. 9, 2011

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