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Davidow, Davidow, Siegel & Stern, LLP
Long Island's Elder Law, Special Needs & Estate Planning Firm

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tips for Preventing, Detecting and Reporting Financial Abuse of the Elderly

As the economy worsens, incidences of elder financial abuse are reportedly on the rise. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to scams or to financial abuse by family members in need of money.

A recent study found that up to one million older Americans may be targeted yearly. Family members and caregivers are the culprits in 55 percent of cases, although financial losses are higher with investment fraud scams.

While it is impossible to guarantee that an elderly loved one is not the victim of financial abuse, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances. One option is to have more than one family member involved in caring for the loved one. You can also encourage the elder to get involved in community activities to ensure he or she has a wide range of support. Using direct deposit as much as possible is also helpful. And of course you should always screen caregivers carefully and verify references.

Financial abuse can be difficult to detect. The following are some signs that a loved one may be the victim of this kind of abuse:

- The disappearance of valuable objects
- Withdrawals of large amounts of money, checks made out to cash, or low bank balances
- A new “best friend” and isolation from other friends and family
- Large credit card transactions
- Signatures on checks look different
- A name added to a bank account or newly formed joint accounts
- Indications of fear of caregivers

If you suspect someone of being financially abused, there are several actions you can take:

- Report the crime by calling your local Adult Protective Services and state attorney general’s office. File a police report.
- Explore options at your local probate court if your state has such courts. The court can intervene if someone in the family is misusing a power of attorney or their role as guardian or conservator.
- Contact advocacy organizations. The National Center on Elder Abuse offers guidance on how to investigate and seek justice for elder abuse. State laws vary, but some have elder abuse statutes and may be able to get restitution for breach of fiduciary duties.
- Try to get a temporary restraining order from a court while building your case.

Source: www.elderlawanswers.com, 4/6/09

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New York State Approves New Type of Combination Life and Long Term Care Insurance

You may be interested to know that a new combination Life Insurance/Long Term Care policy has been approved in New York State. This policy differs from other combination policies in some important aspects. They are as follows:

1. The underwriting for the policy is based on mortality as opposed to morbidity. This means that someone who was denied for a normal LTC or combination policy may be approved for this policy.

2. Once the policy is activated, cash will become available without regard to actual LTC expenses. Other policies reimburse only for actual documented expenses.

3. There are no restrictions on how the cash is used. A typical LTC policy only covers certain types of expenses.

4. Annual cash benefits are available up to IRS limits ($102,200 in 2009).

This policy provides you with a way to obtain long-term care insurance for those clients who either are not able to obtain insurance due to underwriting issues or for those who view LTC insurance as “lost” premiums if they don’t use it.

Source: Craig Marcott, Inc., East Patchogue, 3/23/09 newsletter.