I had the pleasure last week of being a panelist as part of the Canadian Association of Gift Planner’s mentoring & education breakfast, on the topic of Ethics. When I had previously thought of ‘Gift Planning’ I was only considering the Will component, the gift left to a particular charity, once the person had died. I had not fully appreciated all of the challenges that might be experienced when working with the older person while they are still alive. There was much discussion in relation to the donor’s capacity, and the challenges posed when large amounts of money are being gifted and bequeathed to a charity especially when the donor might exclude family from their will. Ethical practices and how to do the ‘right thing’ are certainly critical considerations for gift planners.
My contribution as a panelist was in regards to the vulnerability of many seniors and those that find themselves alone in their later years. Their vulnerability isn’t necessarily in direct relation to their capacity but rather their need for friendship and assistance when the cost for this interaction might be naming this ‘friend’ in their will as a beneficiary. I had previously blogged about this thorny topic in ‘Sharing the Caring’.
I understand that it is very hard to be and feel old and to find oneself alone. The exchange of ‘I will assist you now and you don’t have to pay me BUT you do have to leave me your house…. or your money’ does not seem fair. It is an equation that we may see in family but it is also an equation we may see between the older person and their neighbours and/or their caregivers. In some cases, it might be a reasonable exchange when there is capacity and genuine care and concern; but it can also be highly suspect and smell of elder abuse. Perhaps the best scenario would be if there is a separate bone fide attorney for property (either a person or a trust company) who has been named who can work to ensure the older person’s money is being appropriately spent- on them- the older person but even so, the issue and need to have someone trustworthy appointed as attorney for personal care is clear.