Estate planning can protect people from elder abuse

Failing to plan for the future can have costly and dangerous impacts on people in Texas, especially seniors over 65 who do not have a will or other key estate planning documents. One Wells Fargo survey found that around 40 percent of Americans in this age group do not have critical documents in place that can protect them if they are incapacitated and can make sure their wishes are followed upon their death. Without these plans in place, people can be more vulnerable to financial abuse and exploitation, a major concern for elderly Americans.

There are four key estate planning documents that everyone should have in place for the future: a will, a financial power of attorney, an advance health care directive and a health care power of attorney. While a will designates what will happen to a person's belongings and property after he or she passes away, the other documents address a person's needs in case they are incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

An advance health care directive lays out guidelines on key health care decisions, such as the use of life support technologies. The power of attorney documents gives a named, trusted person the ability to make decisions on a person's behalf after he or she is considered legally incapable. When drafting these documents, it can also be important to ensure that they are accessible to the creator's beneficiaries. By being open about estate planning, family wealth and plans for the future, people can help to protect themselves.

Thinking about the future and putting a plan in place can help to protect people from unscrupulous individuals who may seek to profit from others' vulnerabilities. An estate planning lawyer may be able to help clients create wills, trusts and other important documents.

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