Protecting Seniors – Emergency Contact Form for Financial Advisors
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 25,000 Canadians are diagnosed with dementia each year, and more than 500,000 are currently living with the disease. While dementia can occur at a relatively young age, the risks increase as we grow older. According to the federal government’s Chief Public Health Officer, the average age of the onset of dementia symptoms is 70 years for men and 74 for women.
One of the risks for those with dementia is losing the ability to make sound financial decisions, or, even worse, falling victim to scams in which they willingly transfer money to others without a full understanding of what they are doing. In the United States, many financial advisors have put a safeguard in place to protect their senior clients who might develop the disease – it’s called an emergency contact authorization form.
How the Form Works
With an emergency contact authorization form, the client identifies someone they trust that their financial advisor can contact if the advisor believes the client is having trouble managing their finances or is being taken advantage of financially. You can view a sample form here: [http://www.virginialynn.net/files/72367/2016%20Emergency%20Contact%20Authorization%20Form.pdf]
The form only authorizes the financial advisor to discuss the situation with the designated individual. It does not give that individual authority to manage the client’s financial affairs, as a power of attorney would. The designated individual may be the same person named in the power of attorney, but it doesn’t have to be.
Because dementia is progressive, moving from mild, to moderate, to severe cognitive decline over time, financial advisors who advise seniors are in a unique position to see these changes occur between portfolio review sessions – or to spot any unusual financial requests or transactions that seem out of character for the individual. The emergency contact authorization form gives the financial advisor the ability to take action, and discuss the situation with someone the client has indicated they trust.
It’s a protection that we hope will gain greater prominence in Canada soon. You can learn more about the use of these forms in the U.S. here: http://www.themckenziefirm.com/financial-firms-roll-out-form-aimed-at-stopping-financial-elder-abuse/
Thank you for reading … Have a great day!