March 3, 2022
As we get older, many of us need a little help doing things we used to do by ourselves, such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning. Sometimes we need help managing our finances. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still make decisions for ourselves. Here’s how to avoid having a caregiver or assistant turn into a guardian.
Caring for yourself when you are older means continuing to practice lifelong habits, such as cooking, bathing, shopping, and paying bills. Would-be guardians try to break their victims of those habits and encourage them to believe they can’t care for themselves anymore. For example, they insist on being the one who takes care of everything for them, from picking up their groceries to taking checks to the bank. Don’t let them do any more than they absolutely have to.
To appoint a guardian, a judge has to believe there is no one else in the senior’s life who can help them. Would-be guardians try to isolate their victims as much as possible, both physically and psychologically. For example, they might make it hard for them to set up regular shopping dates or weekly games with family or friends. With the pandemic, this has become much easier. Ideally, the victim comes to believe that they cannot depend on anyone else. If you need assistance, try not to rely on any one person too much. Even occasional help by a friend or relative will help prevent you from becoming completely isolated.
Make your end-of-life decisions and put them in writing now so a judge won’t have to appoint someone to make them for you in the future.
Tip: If you have enough money to make you attractive to a scammer, you probably have enough money to afford a lawyer. If you don’t spend some of it to protect yourself today, someone else might spend your own money against you in the future.
Automate Your Life
Create routines and use services that make it easier to take care of yourself and stay engaged with family and friends. Set up automatic payments for regular expenses and learn how to use services like Instacart to do your shopping if you can’t do it yourself.
If there are obstacles to leading an active and social life, such as a lack of transportation, find ways to get around them. Try out services like Uber and Lyft that can help you get out and about on your own.
Put Safeguards in Place
If you need help keeping track of your money, explore services like True Link, which will let you share your spending activity with someone you trust even if they don’t live close-by. You can get help monitoring your bank and credit card statements with services like Eversafe and Carefull.
Also consider giving someone you trust read-only access to your accounts or a durable financial power of attorney to demand and receive financial reports from any future guardian.
It is unlikely that anyone will try to force you into guardianship, but if they do, don’t make it easy for them. A few simple steps today will not only protect you but also help you live a more enjoyable life and make it easier on your loved ones as you grow older.
SafetyDeed uses cybersecurity techniques to help protect senior homeowners against fraud, including by guardians and attorneys.