MINNEAPOLIS — Elder abuse and financial exploitation aren’t pleasant topics, but they’re topics advisors should be knowledgeable, says Marit Anne Peterson of the Minnesota Elder Justice Center.
Peterson will be educating advisors at the FPA conference this week about how they can take action to prevent and report suspected elder abuse and financial exploitation.
“Most often when people think about financial exploitation, they think about stranger scams and frauds that are perpetrated from a far,” Peterson said. But that’s not usually the case.
In fact, in almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. A startling two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
This concerns advisors and planning attorneys because sometimes the person who has been empowered to act on a client’s behalf in a given situation may not be the best person to be making those decisions.
Peterson said collaboration during the planning relationship can help protect clients by creating safeguards with other professionals. Peterson encourages open communication with planning attorneys to provide additional oversight.
“Those opportunities exist, and they are important to think about from a protective standpoint,” Peterson said.
For advisors who are apprehensive about approaching the financial safety conversation with their clients, Peterson said the intrinsic aspects of the business should make it that much easier.
“When I’ve talked with advisors, they’re interested in the quality of their relationships with their clients. They want to be able to be a resource, they want to offer useful and valiant advice to their clients not just about how to invest their resources, but also how those resources should be managed. That safety conversation is a part of that.”
Peterson said advisors should be on the lookout for these warning signs:
Warning Signs Of Financial Exploitation
- Financial behavior changes – “watch for patterns,” Peterson said. This could include transaction patterns, especially transaction with no explanation or a sudden Rise in e-transactions when they previously did their banking in person.
- Changes made to planning tools – amending trusts and Power of Attorneys, sometimes indicates unease, Peterson said. Ask follow up questions to get to the bottom of the need for sudden changes.
- Large/unexplained transfers – Frequent transfers of small amounts of money or transfers of extremely large amounts of money are potential indicators that something is amiss.
- Listen to disclosures – Listen up! Pick up on family discussions being shared with you and ask follow up questions. Sometimes these conversations can be indicators.
Peterson concluded, “Financial advisors are such tremendous allies because of the relationship building that they do with their clients.”
AdvisorNews Managing Editor Cassie Miller may be reached at cassie.miller@Adnewsfeedback.com. Cassie has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. Follow her on Twitter @ANCassieM.