DeDominicis: Look out for yourself when helping others

Attending to an ailing neighbour’s or friend's personal affairs may be better handled by an appropriately, legally-appointed person.

DeDominicisLending a hand to an ailing neighbour or friend is something many of us do, with no expectation of remuneration. An elderly neighbour who is living alone and has no family that live in town, may tug at your heartstrings.

You may wish to help. The Good Samaritan in you, rising to the surface, you may feel a sense of pride and a maternal/paternal instinct towards the person that you may have known for some time, during their better days perhaps.

My intention is not to discourage you from helping these people. Far from it. If you can be of assistance in any way, then you should be. Society will certainly be indebted to you for your time and kindness.

However, I merely intend to warn people not to get in so deep that they are assisting with banking, paying the bills, doing the shopping, making sure taxes get paid, worrying about all sorts of things that relate to the ailing neighbour’s personal affairs—that may be better handled by an appropriately, legally appointed person, rather than just a good neighbour who was only intending to ‘lend a hand every so often’ and perhaps ‘pick up a litre of milk now and again.’

There is also the danger, most likely unfounded, of future allegations being made by far-away relatives who may show up to claim their inheritance and make accusations against the Good Samaritan’s supposed bilking their inheritance, or taking advantage of the older persons position. While these allegations may be without merit in most cases, there is nothing that can be done to stop these claims being made. You will only have your notes, if any, and memories to defend yourself.

This is not a position that anyone wants to be in. After lending a hand, you are suddenly the accused.

If you or someone you know is in this position, firstly, thank you for helping out, you are an asset to our community.

But secondly, perhaps you should consider that the ailing neighbour who lives alone and who has no one looking in to check they are OK, should perhaps be persuaded to move into a proper facility where they are out of harm’s way and removed from potentially dangerous situations. After all, not everyone is a Good Samaritan and we all too often hear of the aging population being taken advantage of.

These are all good reasons to properly plan for your potential future incapability by appointing people you trust to handle your financial/legal and health matters.