July 12, 2016
Elder Financial Abuse In Michigan
As a Michigan Certified Elder Law Attorney, I am very cognizant of issues affecting seniors. One of the biggest challenges these days for seniors is trying to figure out where to go to get quality, unbiased, planning advice on legal and financial issues. For this reason, I sit on the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee for the State Bar of Michigan, along with another well respected Michigan elder law attorney, Robert Anderson.
Today as we have our committee meeting, Attorney Anderson and myself our presenting to the rest of the committee on the prevalence of insurance salespersons masquerading as veterans benefits advocates engaging in misleading and deceitful practices to take advantage of senior veterans by preying upon their thirst of knowledge about the little known VA Aid & Attendance benefit.
Typically what’s happening is that insurance agents are creating fake sounding non-profit organizations that often make it seem like they are aligned with the VA Department. Their names may have things like “Wartime” , “Support”, “American”, “Association”, “Veterans”, or “Patriot” in their name. Make no mistake, these are all basically fronts to sell ill advised annuities that our unsuitable more often than not for the senior veteran. Sure, they will do the VA application at no charge (because none can charge for the VA application!!), but for them to do the VA application you need to buy a high commission annuity that may make no planning sense for the senior veteran. Now don’t get me wrong, annuities may be appropriate in certain circumstances, but when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Additionally, there hardly ever is a VA Accredited Attorney involved in preparing the claim, which is a requirement. You need to be accredited to complete a VA application on behalf of someone.
If you attend one of these seminars, be very careful moving forward.
My advice is to be careful where you get your VA benefit information from. I would recommend that the person you seek advice from is a Certified Elder Law Attorney, member of National Academy of Elder Attorneys, is a VA accredited attorney, and a member of ElderCounsel. All of these associations and designations point to the fact that the person you are working with is an expert in their area.