08 Oct How can I protect my sick dad’s money from scammers?
Q. My ailing father, a widower, has advanced dementia and lives at home. His estate planning documents were prepared 10 years ago. I am his power of attorney. My father is worth a considerable amount and my sisters and I are concerned he could be tricked by dishonest aides, business associates or distant relatives into changing his will. Is there a way for us to find out if he has had another superseding will or do we just cross our fingers?
— Trying to be prepared
A. We’re sorry to hear your dad is having a rough time.
You do have some options.
First, New Jersey has a Will Directory pursuant to N.J.S.A. 3B:3-2.1, Will Registry; Searches, said Nancy Heslin Reading, an estate planning attorney with Reading Law Firm in Newton.
But, she said, she’s never known it to be in use.
“There is no way to check to see if the will has been replaced, although this attorney who drafted the will that the children have seen may have been notified if it was replaced,” she said.
“The guardian can secure the assets so that either dad or any ‘friend’ can’t access the funds,” she said. “You would need to retain an elder law attorney to assist with preparation of the application to the court.”
Reading said the filing requirements and timelines are fairly complicated, but in this case, it could be worth it.
“In the situation you present, I would encourage the family to seek the guardianship to protect all assets,” she said. “I could write paragraphs about elderly men who have fallen for young caregivers who then took them to the cleaners.”
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This story was originally published on Oct. 8, 2019.
NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.