Financial Advisors And Customer Cognitive Decline
On The Front Lines Of Protecting Older Customers From Financial Abuse
Consequences Of Impaired Mental Capacity
Cognitive decline is a fact of life among America’s aging population and financial advisors often find themselves on the front lines of an effort to protect clients’ lifetime savings and investments from the consequences of impaired mental capacity. Advisors who once thought that managing investments to deliver a comfortable retirement was the main challenge of their work are now likely to discover that protecting nest eggs as clients become ill-equipped to deal with money matters poses an even greater challenge. As one expert noted, since half of people develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia by their mid-80s, having a great financial plan may mean nothing when hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, can disappear from an account in weeks or months due to a client’s declining cognitive abilities. To deal with the reality of widespread cognitive decline among their aging clients, advisors should be proactive in taking steps to protect clients from financial exploitation. Evans Law Firm, Inc. represents seniors and their families against those who financially exploit older persons. Potential abusers include caregivers, contractors, life insurance agents, trustees and financial advisors themselves. If you or a loved one has been a victim of financial elder or dependent adult abuse or neglect in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
What Advisors Can Do To Protect Customers
The first step is for advisors and staff to be aware of how significant and widespread the issue of cognitive decline has become, and to look for possible signs of it when dealing with clients. Second, start having discussions when clients are in their late 50s and early 60s about the need to determine when they should start getting help with health care and financial decisions. Asking clients to sign an “incapacity letter” ahead of time, which directs advisors to speak with surrogates if red flags appear, is a wise idea suggested by one advisor in the story. Encouraging clients to involve trusted grown children or others in their plans and having those trusted relatives or friends get to know the advisor for this purpose is another solid step.
What Families Can Do To Protect Older Loved Ones
Make sure your older loved one has solid estate planning instruments and a Power of Attorney in place before cognition declines. Take these other important steps too:
- Make a detailed inventory of the senior’s assets and liabilities. Keep it current. Be sure to include online checking, savings, credit card and investment accounts which can be overlooked if they aren’t in paper form.
- Estimate future costs to get a handle on, and plan form care costs and medications and services that may not be covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
- Automate finances by online bill payments so a senior’s taxes, utilities, insurance or other important bills are always paid on time and don’t fall through the cracks.
Other Steps To Protect Older Loved Ones From Financial Abuse
Keep a constant eye on your loved one’s financial accounts – ALL of them. You may want to redirect the business mail to your own address if your older loved on has in-home caregivers who may access their business mail. Never allow a caregiver access to checks, cash or credit cards. Even if you have checks under lock and key continue to monitor a senior’s account online as online or phone access may also redirect their money to a caregiver’s accounts or the senior’s money may be used to pay a caregiver’s bills online. Never, ever give a caregiver a Power of Attorney, credit card, or a blank check. Stay involved in any senior loved one’s life so a stranger does not have the opportunity for this kind of theft and exploitation.
If you or a loved one has suffered financial elder abuse in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other estate planning attorneys at Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).