I just read an article online about an 81-year-old woman who tried to protect her life savings from a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) she was considering moving to, but ended up losing it all. Having read scary stories about how these facilities can take over a person’s money, she listened to her son and transferred most of her savings into her son’s name. He promised to responsibly look after those assets.
She actually decided not to move to a CCRC, but instead to relocate to a different type of living space that would require evidence of a certain amount of assets. But when she asked her son to transfer her assets back into her name, he refused. She no longer had ownership over her own money.
The best thing she could have done initially was to create a trust. A trust is a legal document that can take legal title to your assets, like investments, bank accounts, real estate, vehicles and valuable personal property. You can think of a trust like a box where you can hold your assets for your benefit during your lifetime, and thereafter for the benefit of another person, called a “beneficiary.” This way she would have continued to own the assets, but she could have appointed her son as a manager of the trust to help her. And she would have always retained the ability to take that responsibility away from her son. In the end, she would have continued to own her life savings.