THE BUDDY SYSTEMIn her article “Client Self-Defense Against Abuse, Disputes, and Neglect,” Renee C. Lovelace reminds us of an acronym describing risk factors for becoming a victim of scams. H.A.L.T. refers to the risk saturated circumstances of being overly hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired.

While hunger tends to be a time to avoid grocery shopping and fatigue impacts all of us, the other two are especially big players in how older folks are manipulated. Anger can make us vulnerable to those who seek to encourage our vindictive nature and play on our hurt feelings. Perhaps a sibling will seek to use her sister’s infrequent visits to Dad to prompt him to cut her out of the will. It may be that a subsequent spouse has discouraged her husband’s children from visiting or even forbidden it, and then leverages that hurt into long term changes to an estate plan. This ties in to the issue of loneliness. When we are cut off from social interaction and fellowship, when we are lonely, we are always more vulnerable. In blended families both spouses may become ill and have to be cared for by their respective children in separate places. This loneliness can confuse both spouses and create misunderstandings that lead to bad decisions.

Beware of hunger, anger, loneliness, and becoming overly tired. Don’t respond to telephone solicitors or open your door to strangers. Remember our previous posts about seeking wise counsel prior to making decisions. Trusted family and friends won’t rush you into a decision and an experienced estate planning lawyer will be looking out for you and not the people looking to scam you.

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