There’s a new scam targeting the elderly that may shock you. If you’ve got an aging parent, it’s imperative that you know how to take precautions. In this scam, the crooks actually take guardianship of your parents. And once this one happens, you lose some very important rights with regard to your parents and their possessions. But if you take the right steps now, you can make sure this never happens you.

Your parents become a target when they begin to lose their ability to take care of themselves. They can come in contact with someone who wants to perpetrate this scheme through various means, but it’s usually a crooked lawyer or medical professional who knows how to manipulate the legal system.

Once the crook identifies your parent as a target, all they have to do is tell a judge that your parent can’t take of himself anymore and request guardianship. As long as the person has taken a short course in guardianship at the local college, has a high school diploma, has no felony record, and is over 18 years of age, the judge will usually comply. The crook doesn’t even have to be related.

Once they have guardianship, the crook can take everything your parent owns — legally! He can access bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate, and any other funds or assets your parent may have. And do whatever he wants with the money.

The action usually happens fast, and you and your parent may never know about the decision until all your parent’s assets are gone.

And, what’s worse, once the property is gone, it’s very difficult to get back. The courts tend to favor the guardian over family. And the documents needed to take action are usually sealed by the court to “protect” your parent. So it’s vital you take action now, before your parent is a victim. Here’s what you need to do:

There are two forms you need to have your parent fill out. These will protect him better than anything else. The first is called the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This document allows the person of his choice to handle his health care issues in the event he can’t act on his own behalf. You can usually find these forms on the Internet for free. And some hospitals offer them.

The other form isn’t as easy to get. It’s called a regular Durable Power of Attorney. You’ll probably have to take your parent to an attorney to have this done. Make sure you find a reputable attorney — preferably one who has helped friends or other family members. The Durable Power of Attorney allows your parent to choose who will take care of his finances if he’s not able to do so. This document makes it impossible for someone else to step in as guardian. And it protects your parent’s assets.