Adult Illness, Alzheimer's and Dementia, Elder Law

Vulnerability in Seniors

By Rick Law, founder of the multi-generation law firm of Law Elder Law, home to the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in West suburban Aurora, IL. A 2012 University of California–Los Angeles study conducted by Shelley E. Taylor, a distinguished professor of psychology, found that older people are more likely to fall for scams because they have a greater tendency to fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest. Apparently, this is because a region of the brain called the anterior insula, which is linked to distrust and is important for discerning untrustworthy faces, is less active in older adults. “Older adults are more vulnerable. It looks like their skills for making good financial decisions may be deteriorating as early as their early to-mid-50s,” said Taylor, founder of the field of health psychology who was honored in 2010 with the American Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Not only is this fascinating, but this really drives home the very important point that seniors are vulnerable to financial exploitation before the point where they are legally incapacitated. When having your estate-planning documents drafted, your lawyer should be thinking about what has to happen for a person to be determined to be incapacitated. Their job is to plan for the fact that their clients have a high probability of becoming unable to handle their financial affairs long before they are legally incapacitated. Most often it will be apparent to a spouse and other family members before it ever comes to the notice of either medical or legal professionals. When drafting estate-planning documents such as a revocable living trust, ask your lawyer about different options for the determination of sufficient incapacity to trigger the removal of the trustee. Traditionally this happened when two or more attending physicians agree that the individual lacks legal capacity, then the trustee is to be removed and the successor trustee is then empowered. That traditional view has a glaring weakness due to the fact that most physicians do not want to ever have to go to court. In addition, most attending physicians do not want to give a diagnosis of dementia or incapacity, because they do not want to deliver that bad news. Your drafting lawyer may be able to assist with the creation of a disability panel. Most clients and their spouses embrace the idea of a disability panel for the determination of sufficient incapacity so as to remove a financially vulnerable trustee. If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now. Sincerely, Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees. Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!