When then President John F. Kennedy designated May as Older Americans Month there were 17 million Americans over the age of 65 in the United States. Today, the U.S. has over 40 million people over age 65 living here and by 2060 experts tell us that number will top 90 million. For the first time in history, older Americans will outnumber younger Americans (those under age 18). Unfortunately, the “greying of America” has produced an increase of potential victims for swindlers.
Exact numbers are hard to come by because many elderly victims are either ashamed to admit they have been victimized or afraid to report the crime; however, one recent study estimated that senior citizens are being swindled to the tune of almost $3 billion a year in America alone. The elderly may fall prey to lottery and sweepstakes schemes, unscrupulous lending practices, e-mail and telemarketing schemes and identity theft. Sadly, the most common “predators” off the elderly are their own family members and others close to them who have access to their finances or who gain their confidence. As the number of elderly Americans continues to grow, so does the possibility of financial abuse of the elderly.
One way to prevent many forms of financial abuse of the elderly is to create a thorough estate plan that allows you decide now who will have access to your finances as you age. It also allows you to incorporate a number of checks and balances and complete regular reviews to ensure that you are not the victim of a swindler or abuser.