In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI) reminds financial professionals and the general public throughout Montana to be on the lookout for signs of elder financial abuse, including potential exploitation by guardians.
Whether publicly funded or privately appointed, a guardian has a legal obligation to act in the best interest of a protected individual. Guardians often are granted extensive access and control of a protected individual’s assets. Financial abuse or exploitation by guardians could occur if the guardian improperly uses the protected individual’s funds, securities, property, or other assets.
“A trusted guardian can be a great resource. But sometimes guardians take advantage of the people in their care.” Commissioner Downing continues, “Taking the time to understand the warning signs of guardian financial abuse and the steps that can be taken to report such abuse are key to helping those who cannot help themselves.”
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which CSI is a member, has developed resources to help call attention to the red flags of fraud and suspected guardian financial abuse. The “Guarding the Guardians” publication provides examples of exploitation and information on reporting suspected elder financial abuse.
Examples of suspected guardian abuse include:
- The guardian takes money from the protected individual’s investment portfolio to buy a new car for personal use.
- The guardian overcharges for a caregiving service, such as billing the estate hourly for wait time to file paperwork in person when it could have been submitted online.
- The guardian does not take the protected individual to medical appointments or purchase their necessary medication.
The publication, as well as other resources to help seniors are available on NASAA’s Serve Our Seniors website http://serveourseniors.org/about/investors/. Other senior investor protection resources are available at www.CSIMT.gov.
Commissioner Downing urges anyone with suspicions of senior financial exploitation to contact our agency at 406-444-2040.