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Preventing elder abuse through estate planning

As people get older, especially as they reach their 90s and 100s, it may become more difficult for them to take care of their finances or other assets. Some of these people consult with an estate planning attorney and appoint a power of attorney or another individual to take care of financial or business decisions, while others have someone appointed by the courts. Some New Jersey residents may have noticed that not even celebrities like Stan Lee, the co-creator of many people's favorite comic book characters, are able to prevent people from trying to gain control of their considerable finances. Lee's estate is estimated to be valued at more than $50 million, and many people, including his own family, have attempted to gain control of it.

Basic estate planning often concentrates on what happens to a person's assets after his or her death. However, there are things that can be done in order to prevent a stranger from gaining control over those assets before the owner has passed away -- such as the case with Lee. One of the easiest steps that can be taken is to consolidate financial accounts. Over the years, many people may open multiple accounts in order to protect their assets. 

Setting up a revocable trust may also be helpful. Certain types of revocable trusts require letters from two different doctors in the same state as the patient stating that the individual is not capable of managing his or her own assets before someone else can be appointed to take over those assets. A person may also be able to appoint who would be in charge of those assets rather than have someone appointed by the courts.

Estate planning can help to protect older individuals from being taken advantage of. New Jersey residents who wish to discuss their options could benefit from speaking with an attorney. A lawyer may be able to help his or her clients to create new estate plans or alter existing ones. 

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