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Childless people beware!

By Nina Steele 

As mentioned many times before, working for an old people’s charity has made me realise that I need not fear growing old without children. Indeed, busy lifestyles mean that loneliness in old age can befall anyone, regardless of whether or not they have children.

What I am conscious of however, is that childless people may be more of a target for fraudsters in old age and I was made aware of one such case recently. The old lady in question had befriended a handyman who helped her with odd jobs around her house and before long, she had changed her will to make him the sole beneficiary. Social services were alerted and the last I heard was that they were trying to overturn the new will.

Of course people with children can also be duped into changing their will in favour of a fraudster but I believe that old people without children or close relations nearby, need to be extra vigilant. Once the word goes out that someone has a bit of money and does not have any relatives, the danger of attracting fraudsters becomes far greater.

As people live longer and with more and more needing help with everyday living, those who can afford it are choosing to have live-in carers. In my work, I have come across a handful of old people who have live-in carers and because of the closeness of the relationship, the old person often comes to view the carer as family. It is easy to see how they can be taken advantage of and this Daily Mail article seems to suggest that this is exactly what happened when a childless widower left everything to his carer.

One way to avoid being a victim of fraudsters is to give power of attorney to someone you trust in later life. That person becomes a buffer between you and the world.

Fraudsters like all criminals, are opportunists and chances are that they will steer clear once they know that every decision you make has to go through your attorney. The attorney can be a professional such as a solicitor. It is even more of an imperative if you suspect that you may have dementia, for the simple reason that as a degenerative disease, it will only get worse.

I cannot emphasise the importance of planning for old age enough. The last thing you want is for people to see you as a soft touch. Giving someone power of attorney carries a lot of power and so choose carefully. If in doubt about who you should appoint, I suggest that you choose a reputable solicitor firm. That way, you can enjoy old age, without worrying about being taken advantage of.

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