If you are assisting an elderly loved one, such as a parent, with his or her estate, then one tool worth considering is a trust. Some elderly individuals may gravitate towards an irrevocable trust, but it is better for them if they stick with revocable trusts.
U.S. News and World Report explains that revocable trusts can protect the elderly the best and may even help to discourage elder abuse.
One of the reasons why a revocable trust protects elders is because it allows them to retain ownership of their assets. When you put an asset into an irrevocable trust, it becomes the property of the trust and the trustee maintains control over it until it passes to the heir.
If someone wanted to take advantage of your loved one, they could simply get him or her to put assets in an irrevocable trust. Then, the person could get your loved one to make him or her the trustee, essentially giving the person total control over the assets.
A revocable trust also allows your elderly relative to make changes to it if needed. With an irrevocable trust, it is very difficult to make changes once they create it. Changing such a trust requires the approval of the heirs, which is often difficult to get in an abusive situation.
Even if you did notice there was a financial abuse issue going on, with an irrevocable trust, there is little you could do about it. It would involve a court battle to remove the trustee, which can take time. The damage would likely be done by the time you gained control over the assets.