into the new rollback of reform created after the 2008
financial crisis is a provision aimed at prompting bank
and other financial firms to watch out for elder
as with the wider legislation, known as the Economic
Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act,
opinions vary about how consumer-friendly the Senior
Safe Act really is.
measure provides limited immunity from liability for
financial firms that train their workers on spotting
signs and alerting relatives that elderly customers may
be suffering from dementia or being coerced by third
parties into financial transactions.
doesn’t compel all financial institutions to do
anything, however. If firms elect not to undergo the
training, they aren’t eligible for the immunity, but
there are no sanctions. And it doesn’t combat elder
fraud that is perpetrated by financial advisers
a similar enforcement program in Maine has led to
increased rates of reporting of suspected abuse in that
state, said Judith Shaw, Maine’s securities
recalled a recent example: An elderly gentleman came
into a bank with his girlfriend. A teller reported that
he seemed "off" and the girlfriend was acting
aggressively, prompting a teller to call the man’s
emergency contact on file. That prompted a family member
to get the gentleman to a doctor, where they learned he
had been having small seizures that the girlfriend was
ignoring, Shaw said.
Financial Planning Association, which represents
credentialed financial planners, also supported the
Senior Safe Act, said Evelyn Zohlen, president of the
association and founder of Inspired Financial, a
Huntington Beach, Calif., advisory firm.
believes it will provide advisers more backing to ask
clients to sign authorizations to share information as a
routine part of the planning process.
just said to a widowed client today, ‘If we can’t
reach you after several attempts, we’re going to get
worried. Who should we call?’ " That’s usually
enough now to get clients to sign privacy waivers, she
other tips from Zohlen and Shaw:
Get the paperwork done, already. Admit it -- you’ve
been dragging your feet about creating advanced
directives for healthcare, wills and trusts. Do it.
Stop answering the phone altogether. It sounds extreme,
but Shaw advocates letting friends and relatives know
you are screening calls and will get back to them
quickly. Sadly, some seniors answer calls from
telemarketers because they are the only calls they get.
If you have a senior in your life, Shaw says, try to
make sure that doesn’t happen in your own family.
If an adviser asks for an emergency contact and
permission to share information, make sure that person
also holds the power of attorney in your other legal
documents. If there is a good reason for the contact to
be a different person, be sure to let the entire chain
of command in on the details.