Finra, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has decided to give financial advisers the authority to circumvent rules on trade execution when they believe that an elderly client is being manipulated or financially abused. Till now, there was no way of stopping a transaction carried out by unscrupulous relatives or other who saw a senior’s assets as a valuable target for exploitation. Now, bolstered by this new ruling, those who want to look out for elders’ well-being have the tools to do so. Finra has also carried out other efforts to assist seniors, such as a hotline for advice for senior investors and a rule that a contact number for a trusted friend or associate be collected when signing up elderly clients.
These changes come amid increasing awareness of the problem of elder financial abuse, an epidemic that affects millions of families and costs billions of dollars. Although elder abuse takes place on many different levels, from the social to the psychological to the physical, it is often the case that the origin lies in those who want access to an elder’s savings. By making it more difficult to financially exploit elders, it is greatly to be hoped that Finra can help prevent elder abuse in all its forms.
As regulatory agencies gird their loins to do battle with elder abuse, it is important to remind ourselves that the solution starts with the individual. Being able to spot elder abuse and knowing how to combat and prevent it are important skills, and ones that not everybody possesses. Studies have shown that seniors who are cut off from family and friends are far more susceptible to abuse, and without a support structure, they may be coerced into making financial decisions that only benefit an abuser. If you or a loved one have been the victim of financial elder abuse, or suspect that a senior you know is being taken advantage of, call the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669. The Evans Law Firm handles estate planning (including living trust and will packages, powers of attorney, probate matters, Medi-Cal planning, estate administration, trust administration, will and trust contests, specialized trusts including special needs trusts, and conservatorships), and elder abuse (physical and financial).