When children are already grieving the death of a parent, what a nightmare to learn that a caregiver has secretly become the parent’s spouse and stands to inherit a large portion of the estate.

A recent Wall Street Journal article explored this problem.

As the article explains, state laws may not provide adequate relief. So what can you do?

I agree with one proactive approach discussed in the article — protect assets ahead of time with an irrevocable trust. Shielding assets from scam artists is just one of the ways a properly drafted irrevocable trust can preserve an estate.

I take issue, though, with the usefulness of the article’s other suggested defense — a durable power of attorney. While I agree that every adult should have a durable POA, the problem is that the person who signed it can easily revoke it. A durable POA wouldn’t pose much of a barrier to a scammer who had the persuasive skills to talk the victim into getting married.


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