If you have an aging loved one in the Greenville area, you have likely heard stories about elderly people being taken advantage of or exploited by strangers and even overly friendly neighbors or caregivers. Sadly, the more money and assets a senior has, the more likely others will try to assert pressure to exploit them. The law provides a lot of protection for seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and mental impairment. Still, it often requires the quick action of a lawyer to prevent abuse or neglect.
If your family is facing this type of situation, call the Elliott Frazier Law Firm today. Here are just a few ways that you can protect your loved ones.
Make a Dementia Plan Early
As we age, most of us undergo certain mild cognitive changes. We may not remember things as well, and we might be a little slower to react to things. Simply getting older does not automatically mean people have dementia. However, with age, the risk of developing some form of cognitive delay does increase. Nationwide, over five million people are living with Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind this is just one form of organic brain disease that leads to impairment. Many other conditions can affect a person’s mental capacity, including things like:
- Senile dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Vascular dementia
- Pick’s disease
Therefore, if you have loved ones who are approaching their golden years, it’s time to discuss setting up a clear and unambiguous estate plan, complete with carefully drafted powers of attorney. These steps can’t prevent all abuse and exploitation, but they can certainly help.
Understand Cognitive Impairment in South Carolina
If you have a beloved spouse or parent who is beginning to show signs of cognitive delay, get to know the medicine behind it. The more you understand their unique condition, the better you are prepared to fight for them if need be. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is the sixth leading cause of death in South Carolina, with our state leading the nation with the highest Alzheimer’s death rate in the country.
As of 2018, there are an estimated 89,000 people 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s disease in South Carolina. This number is expected to jump to as high as 125,000 by the year 2025.
Steps to Take
If your loved ones have planned wisely, the next step is to be mindful and watchful. Here are some red flags to watch for:
- Overly Friendly Strangers. Does a caregiver or neighbor seem to take an unusual interest in your loved one? It may be heartfelt, but you should at least keep a healthy amount of skepticism.
- New Attorneys and Other Professionals. Is there a distant relative or caregiver who brings around an attorney that your loved one did not use previously? Perhaps your loved one is being asked to make changes to their will, trust, powers of attorney, or other legal documents. If so, ask yourself whether you feel your loved one is mentally capable of taking on such decisions. If they already have a dementia diagnosis, this could be a big problem.
- Changes to Bank Accounts and Titles. Do you notice that your loved one is changing titles to cars, deeds to real estate, or adding new people to bank accounts? If so, you should discuss your concerns with your loved one to ensure they understand the impact of what they are doing.
Speak to an SC Family Attorney Right Away
In many cases, your concerns may be nothing more than you being protective. And that’s fine. But in some cases, you could be seeing the early signs of someone’s attempt to take control of your loved one’s estate and finances. This can have huge financial and even tax consequences, plus it could lead to children and grandchildren losing large inheritances. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the sooner you can take swift actions to protect your loved one.
Call the Elliott Frazier Law Firm today to schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.