20 Jun

Financial Firms Roll Out Form Aimed at Stopping Financial Elder Abuse

Manya Deva Natan
Manya Deva Natan is a California Bar Certified attorney with the law firm of SSS Legal & Consultancy Services located in Calabasas, CA. Her practice focuses on International Estates, Trusts and Estates, Asset Protection, Trust Administration, and more. Manya received her law degree from Stanford University, as well as a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University. She has completed extensive course-work and training in the areas of mental, physical, and emotional health, including being a published author. She is the founder of two publishing-based companies related to health and wellness and has particular interest in the legal and financial components of health and their importance in integrated health. She has appeared multiple times on Good Morning America and is regularly contacted by national media outlets for commentary.
Manya Deva Natan

Portrait of a senior woman contemplating. Isolated on black background.

With cases of financial exploitation of the elderly on the rise, advisors who work with older clients are looking for ways to head off the abuse before it happens. Enter the “Emergency Contact Authorization Form,” a document in which clients can list a trusted person who should be contacted if an advisor suspects a client is starting to lose their mental capacity or, worse yet, being financially abused or scammed.


How Does an Emergency Contact Authorization Form Work?


The Emergency Contact Authorization Form is a document which allows you to identify someone your financial advisor can contact if your advisor becomes concerned about your ability to continue to manage your finances or believes you are being taken advantage of financially by a relative, friend, caregiver, or even a complete stranger.


The Emergency Contact Authorization Form does not take the place of your “Durable Power of Attorney,” which is a legal document in which you give a person you trust the authority to make financial decisions and carry out financial transactions on your behalf. Instead, the form allows you to designate an individual your advisor can contact to discuss concerns they have about your slipping mental capacity, unusual activity in your accounts, requests for transfers of large sums of money to an unknown person or a foreign bank account, and the like. This designated individual could be the same person as the agent named in your Durable Power of Attorney or some other trusted person in your life. The idea is that once your advisor makes your emergency contact aware of the issues, your contact can reach out to you to determine if the advisor’s concerns are legitimate.


What Should You Do?


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), your advisor is also in a unique position to spot unusual activity and requests. Thus, when your advisor asks you fill out an “Emergency Contact Authorization Form,” carefully consider who you should name, discuss your choice with your advisor, complete the form, let the person you’ve chosen know that they have been designated, and give that person your advisor’s contact information.


Nonetheless, 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. To insure that all of your financial accounts will continue to be managed and your bills will get paid if you become mentally incapacitated, you will need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.


Please contact our office if you have any questions about Emergency Contact Authorization Forms, Durable Powers of Attorney, or if you suspect a family member or friend is being financially exploited or abused.

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