Seniors: How Do You Know Who To Trust?

Jun 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

How do I know I can trust my family?  How do I know that in the face of impending need, an emergency, planning for the end of my life, ordinary day to day living, my family will be there for me, acting in my best self interest?  Are there any indicators that something might be brewing which would raise serious questions of trustworthiness?

A recent death brought all these questions to mind.  It was not an immediate family member, but a close friend and companion of our family member.   Their acquaintance had developed years ago, becoming a friendship which lasted beyond the deaths of both their sp0uses.  For more than decade, they had become fast companions, enjoying the presence of each other, while never living together.  Their relationship was deep and abiding, genuine and meaningful for both of them.  In the intervening years she had moved into an assisted care facility.  He maintained  his own home, just scant minutes away.  They lunched together each week.  They shopped and took care of routine needs.  They toured the old home town and surrounding sites.  It was their way of spending and enjoying quality time together.

Then it happened.  He fell on a Saturday night and broke his leg.  He had surgery the following Monday morning, and Tuesday night, he suffered an embolism and died.  His precipitous departure was staggering for all of us in his ‘family’ circle.  Many questions arise, and one of them is “Who can I trust?”  There are some considerations we think might be helpful for senior citizens trying to determine whom they allow into their ‘Trust Circle’ to share all the legal and financial information someone needs to have when end of life issues are addressed.

  • Trust is developed over days and months and years of trustworthy behavior demonstrated in a relationship.  It is not present just because someone claims to be trustworthy; in fact, that might even be a reason to question whether or not someone could be trusted.  Trusting another person develops over time, with the other showing trusting behavior over and over and over again.
  • Short of months and years in a trusted relationship, there are legal professionals whose job it is to be ‘Trustees’ and who take an oath to uphold their word; family and friends can also be Trustees for an estate or a legal entity, and it is their duty to do what you indicate in writing you want to have done with your estate.  Such Trustees may be paid for the work they do on your behalf.
  • Trust can also be identified from experiences of others.  If friends or family have confidence in people or an institution or a facility offering services to senior citizens, that’s a good recommendation, and it means you can probably count on that information when you are making a decision about your future.  However, such information should not be used exclusively for your decision-making, but it can be part of the deliberation process.

Trust is a highly important factor when choosing someone to help manage your affairs whether or not you are planning for imminent death, or just making appropriate arrangements for your estate as you age.  Be sure you have someone you trust to help you manage choices and decisions you have to make about your future.



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