76-Year-Old Customer Alleged Account Mismanagement
Charges Of Financial Abuse, Negligence And Breach of Fiduciary Duty
FINRA To Arbitrate Dispute
Financial elder abuse strikes seniors from a number of directions – caregivers, insurance agents, strangers, scammers, contractors, and financial advisors and stockbrokers to name but a few. Some forms of financial elder abuse are easily detectable as when an in-home caregiver steals cash or uses a senior’s credit card to buy things for themselves. But other forms of financial elder abuse are more subtle such as when an insurance agent sells a senior an unsuitable annuity or other insurance product or a financial advisor churns the stocks in a senior’s account or puts them in risky or unregistered investments. Through mismanagement or concealment financial advisors may also exploit seniors believing that their mismanagement or improper investments of the elderly client’s money are likely to pass undetected. Whenever a senior is victimized by financial elder abuse here in San Francisco or elsewhere in California, we can help. Call Evans Law Firm, Inc. today at (415)441-8669 if you or a senior loved one has been a victim of financial elder abuse or fraud.
Ongoing Case Alleging Mismanagement As Financial Elder Abuse
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a regulatory agency that has been increasingly focused on protecting older Americans from financial elder abuse from advisors and brokers. Most investment account agreements investors have with their brokers include provisions that any dispute between the customer and the brokerage or advisory firm must be arbitrated before FINRA. A case currently pending before FINRA illustrates how financial elder abuse allegations of older brokerage clients can come before a FINRA arbitration panel.
In the case, the plaintiff alleged that she and her husband first made contact with the defendant brokerage firm in 2009, but decided at the time not to use their services. After frequent outreach from the firm over the next few years, the couple agreed to meet with an advisor at their home in April 2018. The advisor reviewed documents showing the performance of the couple’s existing trust – which contained assets inherited from her late mother and aunt – under another money manager, and allegedly called the manager’s decisions ‘lazy,’ and ‘woefully subpar.’ After several more conversations between plaintiff and the advisor, the plaintiff signed a contract with the company in late September of 2018 to have the firm take over management of her trust assets. Then, in December of 2018, the suit claims, plaintiff and her husband learned they were obligated to pay nearly one million dollars in taxes directly as a result of what they claim was mismanagement of their account. After paying the nearly $1 million tax obligation, plaintiff allegedly asked the firm to ‘rectify the situation,’ according to the suit. The brokerage allegedly sent a letter to the family, ‘flatly denying their request.’ Plaintiffs then filed a complaint against the firm alleging financial elder abuse, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and intentional misrepresentation. Plaintiff has since died and her heirs are continuing the suit. The defendant firm denies the allegations and the case is still pending.
Watching for Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
The reported case presents what might be unusual circumstances for most investors given the amounts at issue, and the large tax liability involved. But problems, and potential abuse, can arise in smaller accounts too. Family and loved ones should review account statements closely and look for suspicious activities or trades. If you suspect any problems, call elder counsel at once. There are short time frames to bring cases, so always reach out for help immediately if something is wrong. With large or small accounts both here are a few telltale signs of financial elder abuse:
- New accounts suddenly opened or changing from longstanding banks or brokerage firms to new ones
- Missing records
- Frequent and unannounced visits by persons wanting to transact business with a senior
- Changes in where Social Security and retirement checks are deposited
- Unpaid care or utility bills
- Sudden increase in ATM withdrawals or unfamiliar purchases or spending habits.
- New friends or “advisors” whom you have never heard of in your loved one’s life before.
- Credit cards maxed out
- Coercing a senior to make gifts or advance loans
- Changes in trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney or other important legal documents
- Refusing to provide money for necessary or shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, medical care or medicine
Ingrid M. Evans represents seniors in San Francisco and throughout California who are victims of any kind of elder abuse, including financial elder abuse. Ingrid can be reached at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ingrid will pursue all remedies available to you including an award attorneys’ fees and expenses you’ve incurred in bringing your case.
 Evans Law Firm, Inc. is not involved in the case in any way.