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Researchers Develop Assessment Tool To Protect Seniors From Abusive Guardianships


Some estate planning lawyers start discussions by talking about all the fun you can have with your money in retirement, while others play on your wishes to help your family be financially stable after you die.  Not all of the important estate planning decisions are about money, though.  You will also have to decide whom you trust to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become too ill to do so.  Having your most important decisions entrusted to a legal guardian who does not act in your best interest is a nightmare, and losing the legal right to make decisions for yourself when you are capable of acting as an independent adult is even worse, but either of those situations can happen if you do not plan carefully.  A Washington DC estate planning attorney can help you prevent and resolve disputes related to adult guardianship.

How the Interview for Decisional Abilities Works

The Interview for Decisional Abilities is an assessment tool developed by researchers at the Weill Cornell School of Medicine.  It is designed for use by Adult Protective Services (APS) workers who have received reports about alleged neglect or physical or financial abuse of elderly people.  APS workers can use the Interview for Decisional Abilities to find out whether the elderly person at the center of the report understands their situation and whether they are engaging in it willingly.

A term that sometimes arises in discussions about adult guardianship is “the right to make bad decisions.”  If your mother, who has always been frugal, has recently developed a new hobby of buying expensive clothes online, the Interview for Decisional Abilities can determine whether this change in financial behavior.  If she tells the interviewers accurately how much she has spent on new clothes in the past year, they will know that she understands what is happening.  If she says that she always saved her money for a rainy day, but now that she is 80, she is sure that she can afford to buy the clothes that she always used to admire from a distance, they will determine that she is in control of her decisions.  If she seems surprised when confronted with the total amount that she spent, however, this could be a red flag that she is suffering from memory impairment or is a victim of fraud.  It could also be a red flag for cognitive impairment or fraud if the reasons she gives do not make sense, such as that buying designer clothes is a better investment than keeping the money in the bank accounts where it previously was.  If she seems nervous or evasive about why she bought the clothes, she could be suffering from financial abuse.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

A Washington, D.C. estate planning lawyer can help you avoid elder abuse in the form of someone claiming to act in your best interests while stealing your money and isolating you from loved ones.  Contact Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. for help.



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