Recent studies show that at least one in ten elder individuals in Florida may experience some form of abuse in their lifetime.
As a consequence, elder exploitation cases are complex and more difficult to investigate and prosecute, especially when they become victims of persons they know and trust. Additionally, elderly individuals suffering from cognitive impairment have a diminished ability to detect frauds or schemes.
In this article, you will find out how a well-structured estate enhances protection against elder exploitation in Florida.
Elder Financial Exploitation in Florida – Understanding the Concept
Florida Statutes §825.103 specifies the statutory definition of exploitation of elderly persons or disabled adults.
Essentially, the crime of financial exploitation involves a fraudulent or illegal, unauthorized, or improper action carried out by a caregiver, fiduciary, or another person wherein the recourses of an elderly individual are used by another for personal profit or gain.
The statutory definition also encompasses any actions that result in depriving an elderly person of benefits, resources, or assets to which they are legally entitled.
Such situations might cause elders to lose their life savings with virtually no opportunity to have those resources back, causing them to suffer from inadequate health care and poor quality of life as they age.
Elder Financial Exploitation in Florida – As Provided by Law
State law outlines specific elements necessary to establish that an elder individual has been a victim of financial exploitation. Under Florida law, the crime of elder financial exploitation happens when:
- the victim was a vulnerable adult,
- the defendant illicitly appropriated the victim’s property, and
- the defendant was aware (or should have been aware) of the unlawful nature of the conduct
Unfortunately, cases of elder financial exploitation are not uncanny in Florida, especially situations involving:
- Some type of exploitation committed by an agent under a power of attorney or a similar fiduciary relationship
- Theft of money or property perpetrated by a “trusted” person (i.e., family member, caregiver, etc.)
- Investment fraud(s) and scams
- Contractor fraud(s)
- Deceptive schemes to sell unnecessary or fraudulent services or products
- Lottery scams
- Imposter scams
- Tax and debt collection scams
- Sales scams involving telemarketers, mail offers, or door-to-door salespersons
- Virtual scams
Can Estate Planning Protect You Against Elder Exploitation in Florida? – Best Tools Available
One of the fundamental characteristics of a well-structured estate plan is preparing everything in the event of death or incapacity.
In this regard, there are three legal tools one should have in place to avoid elder exploitation – a revocable trust, a power of attorney, and the designation of a pre-need guardian.
Once transferred to a revocable trust, your assets are no longer considered personal property. Hence, it is generally more difficult for malicious individuals to access and exploit assets owned by a trust.
A power of attorney is a legal document used to grant authority to a reliable person to handle all your financial affairs on your behalf. While this document is often used to prevent incapacity cases, it is possible to use it even before the loss of capacity.
Designating a pre-need guardian is also a resourceful tool if an elder individual is being exploited but cannot react against the culprit. Typically, a pre-need guardian is drafted as part of a power of attorney.
Are You Still Unsure What Estate Planning Tools Should You Use to Avoid Elder Exploitation? – Immediately Contact an Expert Attorney
We are willing to help you protect your estate and quality of life as you age in Florida. Immediately contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a consultation.