The October 9, 2017, issue of The New Yorker included a shocking article titled “How the Elderly Lose Their Rights.” The author, Rachel Aviv, was interviewed by National Public Radio. This article should be read carefully by everyone who is 65 or older, and by everyone who has a relative who is 65 or older. In short, it should be read by everyone.
The short answer to the article’s title is that the elderly lose their rights through involuntary guardianship. A pervasive system is described in which professional guardians obtain legal control over elderly persons. These are not just people who have no family and need help, but folks who are self-sufficient and who have family nearby, but who are not capable of fighting the legal system. The case studies described in the article, of guardians liquidating the property of the elderly prematurely and getting rich from their “profession” are heartbreaking.
There are an estimated 1.5 million adults under the care of a guardian in the U.S., and they have an estimated $373 billion in assets. That data comes from an auditor for a guardianship fraud program in Palm Beach County, Florida. Unfortunately, states do not have uniform oversight of guardianships, and in some jurisdictions the guardianship records are sealed anyway.
One important benefit of revocable living trusts is that they remove the need to have a guardian appointed to handle financial affairs. The trustee, who is already known to the family, has complete legal authority over the finances. That should prove one defense against these modern bounty hunters.
Define Your Legacy
Establishing and refining retirement goals, and creating a trust or will often require us to consider difficult questions. How will our lives change as we age? What will happen to our assets? Whom can we trust to fulfill our wishes?
Fortunately, the advisors at The Trust Company of Kansas have years of experience that they put to work so that your hard work continues to pay off for years to come. Be it planning for a comfortable retirement, gifting assets now or later, or establishing a trust and selecting a trustee, we can help you see the future from here.
The advisors at The Trust Company of Kansas are always willing to help you to create an investment plan that is well-aligned with those goals. If you have a specific question about estate planning or wealth management, please contact us at (800) 530-5254 or visit tckansas.com/contactus, and one of our Certified Trust and Financial Advisors will be happy to assist you.