Guess What! I’m Getting Married!

When you see a subject line like this one, you may have several different reactions. The first one that comes to mind is happiness for the couple who is planning to share their life together. The second may be shock or even suspicion, because it seemed to have come out of nowhere, or because the person getting married is a disabled or vulnerable elderly person.

Do you have a loved one who is involved with a younger person and/or has announced he or she is getting married unexpectedly? At first sight, it’s hard not to think the younger spouse is in it for the money. Although true love does prevail in some cases, marrying for money can often be a scam is a form of elder abuse that is spreading throughout the United States. And, unfortunately, the anonymity of the internet makes it a perfect place for con artists to hide their real intentions while trying to entrap their victims under the guise of romantic interest.

So when it comes to your elderly or disabled loved ones, you have to be vigilant. These are some red flags that you and your loved one should look out for when he or she is embarking on online dating for the first time:

Red Flag #1: If someone is too interested – too quickly – in getting to know you beyond the safety of your computer, this could indicate a problem. If you have just met someone online and they are trying to encourage a meet-up before you really know them, they may not just be overly eager.

• Remember that when you give out your number, unless it is an unlisted number, you are giving out your address as well. People can easily do a reverse look-up on a phone number and see where you live. Whether their purpose is dangerous or just desperate, you want to steer clear of both of these.

Unfortunately, there is no federal regulation on elder abuse when it comes to marriage. This is a state-to-state issue that is mainly determined by the capacity of the individual at the time he or she entered the marriage.

Luckily, there are things you can do to help a loved one who you think could be the victim of a marriage scam or to help keep them from becoming one, as follows:

6. Stay vigilant for signs of stress or loneliness, especially after the death of a loved one. In some cases, even if someone seems to be well, he or she may have more dementia, stress, and grief issues than he or she would admit to. Please read our blog post on “Overcoming Loneliness and Depression” for details on recognizing and dealing with these things.

7. Suggest that your loved one protect him or herself. In one instance, an elderly father became involved with the caregiver of his late wife and bought her a car as well as things for her kids. His son admitted that it was his dad’s money and if it made him happy to do this, then he was okay with it. However, he was afraid that his father’s new wife would get him to sign his home over to her and his father could end up homeless. His son shared his concerns with his father and suggested that he put his home in a trust so that it couldn’t be touched or signed away. The father agreed and was confident he had done the right thing one he signed the asset protection trust we drafted.

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