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How do I protect myself from exploitation by my heirs as I become less competent but not incompetent?

Lehigh Acres, FL |

I am 61. I have 1 brother, 59 and 2 half-sibilings. No children. No friends. Husband is 75 and likely to die first. Husband's brother, child and my brother's children are likely to manipulate me because they will need money. My husband & I have trusts, living wills, and durable power of attorney documents but we named each other as the POA. My brother is the successor trustee for my husband's trust. Husband's sister is successor trustee for my trust. Total assets less than 2M. My mother had to move to an ALF. Too late to preserve her assets and I may need to use my resources to help her. I would not trust a "lifecare" facility to do right by me even if I could afford one. I'm actually scared of people who gain a livelihood from seniors of modest means. Any suggestions?

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Attorney answers 4


It is sad that you have to consider these types of things, but it is also necessary. You may want to speak with an estate planning attorney to audit your situation and make sure that your current set up will protect you and your assets.

Beyond speaking with an attorney, you may also want to have someone -whether attorney, CPA, etc - routinely monitoring your finances and accounts to ensure that there is no misappropriation, etc.

Speak to a good estate planning lawyer.

My response to this question is a response to a hypothetical situation based on limited facts. I am not your attorney; you are not my client and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. If you need a lawyer, you should contact one in your area. If you would like to talk with me about your case, you can call my office.


It sounds like you have things pretty much under control. I assume your brother acts as your husband's successor trustee and his sister acts as your successor trustee to keep your heir (your brother I assume) from not wanting to spend money on your behalf in the hopes of inheriting more. I am unsure as you have not provided enough information. The only way you can really protect yourself from unscrupulous heirs is using a corporate trustee as a successor trustee (expensive) and making your trust irrevocable so that you can't make changes during a time when you were less competent but not incompetent.

This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. The answer is for information purposes only and is based on the limited information you provided. If you would like to discuss your Florida legal matter further please call my office at (904)353-0033 x 14.


I agree. It's unfortunate that this is a reality for a lot of people. You should consult an estate attorney, which will help protect yourself and your assets.

It is important that you understand I am not your attorney and you are not my client. Legal advice requires knowledge pertinent facts. Thus, the free advice provided to you here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk because it is impossible to have all the facts available at this time. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in Florida and New York only so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


I agree with my colleagues. My guess is that you had an attorney establish your estate plans, because you DO have everything in such good shape. You have done most everything right, and that makes it far less likely you will have problems. But if you do not feel fully confident in the people you have selected, or if the situation with them changes, then you need to consider adjusting your estate plan. For example, if your husband predeceases you, you will want to consider alternate agents under your POA. (I would expect that your current forms already have at least one alternate built in. If they do not, they should have.) If you do not trust family, then you might consider friends, a pastor from church, etc. The point is, you need to feel comfortable that the person you have chosen is not only trustworthy, but is someone who knows you, knows your objectives, your wants, your preferences, and will follow through with them. If you do not have that peace of mind, then you are missing out on a large part of what your estate plan is supposed to provide you.

James Frederick

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