Your parents are intelligent and raised you to make wise financial decisions. Therefore, it can be shocking and heartbreaking to discover they fell prey to the type of scam that targets the elderly or the naïve. It might be hard to confront the fact that your parents are becoming vulnerable to financial abuse, but it is crucial for you and other California residents to consider options to protect loved ones from this common and insidious type of abuse.
The National Adult Protective Services claims that about one out of every 20 senior citizens across the U.S. will be victimized by financial abuse. Often, a trusted caregiver will inflict this type of abuse. For example, your sister might move in to take care of your parents, but could coerce them into making her the sole beneficiary of their will or to give her unlimited access to their bank accounts. Other scams are perpetuated by strangers. These can include fraudulent phone calls by people claiming to be IRS agents or utility company representatives. They may tell your parents they will be arrested or have their utilities shut off if they do not pay them immediately.
In the past, your parents may never have been tricked into falling for a scam or intimidated into signing over their funds. However, age-related cognitive impairments and other challenges may make them more vulnerable. It may be wise to talk to them about protecting their interests by giving you power of attorney over their finances. Since this topic is complex, this post is not meant to replace the advice of an attorney.