Florida has long been a desired retirement destination for Americans and that continues to hold true today. However, that retirement is turning out to be more than just pleasant days on a golf course or enjoying the coastline and sunshine. Too many an elderly person in Florida is ending up as the victim of financial abuse and exploitation. To make matters worse, this abuse is being perpetrated by the people who are appointed to serve as guardians for retirees who are unable to manage their affairs any longer.

Reports of elderly people being taken advantage of financially often involve professionally appointed guardians. While these guardians do pose serious problems for Floridians, they are not the only ones who end up financially abusing the elderly. Often it is the adult children or other relatives who are put in positions of power that are the abusers. This can even happen if there are multiple children in a family. When siblings disagree about how to handle mom’s or dad’s affairs, one sibling can petition to get guardianship and then prevent the other siblings from being involved.

There may be no way to fully prevent all financial abuse of elderly persons but thorough estate planning can help. Having plans clearly laid out in a will or a trust and even having a power of attorney setup may help to avoid the situations that lead to the appointing of a guardian.

It is never too early to think about estate planning. Similarly, an estate plan should be reviewed often and updated to appropriately reflect life changes. Florida residents may wish to consult with an attorney to understand what estate planning options are best for their circumstances.

Luis E. Barreto