Public Trustee encourages Queenslanders to protect themselves against elder abuse
6 April 2021
In support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Monday 15 June, the Public Trustee is raising awareness of elder abuse and reminding elderly Queenslanders how they can help protect themselves against potential financial abuse.
Acting Public Trustee of Queensland and CEO Samay Zhouand said World Elder Abuse Awareness Day highlights the growing problem of elder abuse in our society and is a reminder that we must value and protect the rights of ageing Queenslanders.
“At the Public Trustee, we manage the finances of thousands of vulnerable Queenslanders with impaired decision-making capacity and advocate on behalf of those who have fallen victim to the misappropriation of funds ,” Mr Zhouand said.
“Financial elder abuse is more common than you think,” he said. “It is a complex issue that is easily hidden and often difficult to identify. Like any type of elder abuse, financial abuse can be devastating to the victims, but it is often harder to recognise because the person has given some form of initial consent.
“It’s a sad reality but the majority of cases that we witness of financial elder abuse involve direct family members, trusted friends or caregivers, or those who have been appointed as an enduring power of attorney, when someone loses capacity.”
Life planning before you become incapacitated is still the safest option, however there are some things you should consider to help further safeguard you, and your loved ones against financial elder abuse.
The Public Trustee recommends you consider the following actions to help prevent financial elder abuse:
- Ensure you have a valid Will, and an up-to-date enduring power of attorney as well as an advance health directive in place.
- Consider obtaining independent legal advice about your Will and enduring power of attorney.
- Ensure any loans owing to you are legally binding.
- Consider putting detailed directions in your enduring power of attorney such as the types of decisions you would like made if you lose capacity. This may include your preferred living arrangements.
- Consider choosing a professional, independent attorney, or if your attorney is not independent, consider choosing two people you can trust to act in your best interests. In your enduring power of attorney, specifically direct them to consult each other and keep each other informed when carrying out duties.
“When choosing an attorney, it’s vital you choose someone whom you can trust to act in your best interests now and into the future,” Mr Zhouand said.
“Your attorney must also respect your right to privacy and respect your views and wishes, taking into account your values and your existing relationships.”
In many cases, to prevent the risk of abuse, it is best to choose two people, who are required to consult each other before decisions are made in your best interest,” he said.
For further information contact your local solicitor, the Queensland Law Society for the name of your local solicitor or a solicitor who is a specialist in this area of the law, or the Public Trustee on 1300 360 044.
If you see signs of elder abuse, please contact the Elder Abuse Helpline: 1300 651 192.
For more information visit www.pt.qld.gov.au
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