Elder Abuse Prevention

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th provides an opportunity to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons. Elder abuse can happen at the hands of strangers, acquaintances and family members. According to HealthLinkBC, more than half of reported elder abuse cases involve financial abuse, defined as using a person’s money or property without their consent, or fraudulently, as in financial scams.

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, BC Notaries are sharing signs of financial abuse and advice on how to protect vulnerable seniors.

Key indicators of financial abuse include a sudden decrease in bank balance, investments or other savings; a notable change in financial decision-making or lifestyle; or withdrawal from family or social interactions due to stress, fear or shame.

Some key forms of financial abuse include:

  1. Pressuring a senior to loan or gift money or other items of value;
  2. Selling a senior’s property or belongings and using the money for themselves;
  3. Tricking or pressuring an elderly person into signing a contract or changing their Will.

BC Notaries help many seniors ensure their assets are safeguarded by legally documenting their wishes. Notaries review the individual’s situation and ensure they have a current legal Will, and advise if they would benefit from creating a Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement.

BC Notaries are also trained to ensure a client is making their own decisions of sound mind, conducting private interviews with individuals to discuss their wishes and related legal planning documents.

Legal Will

Through documenting their wishes in a legal Will and ensuring it is up-to-date, a senior can independently decide how they would like the proceeds of their estate to be distributed. A Notary has a duty to ensure any changes to a Will are done with the senior’s permission and that they are fully informed when making these decisions.

Power of Attorney

The person trusted with Power of Attorney—a designation to manage finances and legal affairs—should be well-known, trustworthy and accountable to the older adult, and involve that person in the decision-making process if the person is capable and competent. A BC Notary can help clarify and designate the Attorney’s roles and responsibilities. This should be done while the signatory is independent and of sound mind.

Representation Agreement

In cases where the senior may have diminished capacity and cannot make a Power of Attorney, they may still be capable of making a special Representation Agreement. This type of agreement provides a designated individual with decision-making authority that typically includes minor and major health care, personal care and living arrangements, but can also include legal affairs and routine management of financial affairs. A Notary Public can advise you on the best approach for your needs and create the appropriate agreement.

Please see these additional helpful resources:  

Age, Disability, and Dementia-Friendly Communicating

Having an age, disability, and dementia-friendly practice. Making services more user friendly for all people, regardless of age or ability. Read the article 

What is Elder Abuse?

Understanding signs of Elder abuse, and steps to take to seek or provide help. Read the article

Respecting the Autonomy of Older Adults 

All capable adults have the right to make decisions about their health care, including the right to consent to treatment, refuse treatment, or discontinue treatment. The Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act (HCCA) outlines the health care consent rules in BC. Read the article

Protection from Elder Abuse and Neglect 

Resources and information from the Government of BC, and where to get help. Read the article

Posted in Personal Planning