With financial exploitation of the elderly on the rise, financial advisors with older clients are looking for ways to head off abuse before it happens. Enter the “Emergency Contact Authorization Form.” With this form, clients can list a trusted person to contact if an advisor suspects a client’s mental capacity is compromised or they are being financially abused or scammed.
What an Emergency Contact Authorization Form Does
The Emergency Contact Authorization Form allows you to identify a person that your financial advisor can contact if they become concerned about your ability to manage your finances or if they suspect you’re being taken advantage of financially by a relative, friend, caregiver, or even a complete stranger. Your advisor can make your emergency contact aware of unusual activity they spot in your accounts, such as requests for transfers of large sums of money to an unknown person or a foreign bank account.
Since your financial advisor is in a unique position to know your financial history (for instance, you take a trip to Europe every June, you have been helping your grandkids with their college tuition, you like to make your charitable donations in October to avoid the year-end rush), he or she is also in a unique position to spot any unusual activity.
The person you choose as your emergency contact could be the same agent named by your Durable Power of Attorney or another trusted person. The idea is that once your advisor makes them aware of the issues, your contact can reach out to you to determine if the advisor’s concerns are legitimate.
You’ll still need a Power of Attorney
When you fill out an “Emergency Contact Authorization Form,” carefully consider who you should name, discuss your choice with your advisor, let the person you’ve chosen know that they have been designated, and give that person your advisor’s contact information. Keep in mind that while an Emergency Contact Authorization Form is a good start, it will only work at the institution where it is on record.
You will still need a “Durable Power of Attorney.” Unlike an Emergency Contact Form, a Durable Power of Attorney gives the “agent” that you appoint the authority to make financial decisions and carry out financial transactions on your behalf. A Durable Power of Attorney ensures that your financial accounts will continue to be managed and your bills will get paid if you become mentally incapacitated.
If you have questions about Durable Powers of Attorney, or if you suspect a family member or friend is being financially exploited or abused, contact our office at 503-675-4385.