How may estate planning prevent elder abuse and exploitation?

An unexpected injury or medical condition could leave you unable to manage your affairs. Preparing for this possibility may help you avoid incompetent caregivers from attending to your needs, financial managers from taking advantage of your condition, or family conflict over making certain your wishes and best interests are being met.

According to the AARP, family conflicts begin when relatives assert control and demand payments for assuming caregiver positions. Well-intentioned relatives, however, may not have the experience to effectively advocate on your behalf.

How may I avoid poor medical care and financial abuse?

Forcing medical treatments on you that do not represent your personal choices may classify as abuse. Executing a health care directive may help you avoid such attempts by naming an individual to oversee your medical needs when you are not able to communicate them directly to your medical providers.

Vulnerability due to aging or illness may entice an individual to misuse your finances. As noted by U.S. News & World Report, financial abuse often goes unreported because elders feel ashamed when someone takes advantage of them. A power of attorney can limit the risk of financial abuse, as it specifies your instructions in writing regarding who can manage your financial matters and how they may do so.

How may estate planning avoid problems?

In an emergency, a spouse or relative may assume that he or she has the right to take over your affairs. This is not true. In Delaware, a spouse or other third party can only manage your affairs if you have given permission through a power of attorney, trust, or similar document; or if they have successfully sought a Guardianship Order through the Court of Chancery.

In the event of incapacitation, a Delaware Court may appoint a Guardian of your Property to oversee your valuable assets; he or she, however, may not control them as carefully as you would. Creating a power of attorney and transferring your assets to a managed trust may provide comfort in knowing that you chose individuals who can effectively manage your needs.