Many people with aging parents and other loved ones understand the importance of helping ensure their elderly family members have made adequate estate plans, documenting their wishes for what should happen to their estates during periods of lifetime incapacity, and at their deaths. What gets missed in many cases, however, is a reminder that we need to pay attention to our loved ones’ finances, helping ensure they aren’t taken advantage of by unscrupulous brokers, advisors, bankers, or other parties.
A recent New York Times article shared the story of a woman who discovered financial misconduct when she moved her 84-year old mother to assisted living. In reviewing her mother’s finances, she learned that her mother’s broker had been placing unauthorized trades in her investment account in order to earn extra commissions. In fact, her mother paid $128,000 in commissions in 2017, nearly ten times what an account her mother’s size would typically be charged by a financial planner.
The brokerage firm, upon receiving notification of the woman’s concerns, investigated and ended up crediting her mother’s account for a portion of the commissions charged. Rather than continuing to pursue the matter through arbitration, they entered into a confidential settlement.
Senior citizens tend to be frequent targets of fraud attempts, and may be more susceptible to becoming victims of unscrupulous acts. Criminals know the elderly tend to be more polite and trusting than younger consumers, and like to target them as a result.
The FBI’s “Fraud Against Seniors” resource provides helpful information for how to help protect our parents and other seniors. If you have power of attorney for your parents’ affairs, that document may also authorize you to talk to and obtain information from your parents’ financial services providers. Helping keep a watchful eye on account statements and correspondence can help lower the risk of your elderly loved one becoming a victim.
To learn more about protecting your parents – and yourself – through estate planning, contact us today!