Watching Out for Elder Financial Abuse

Welcome to AADMM Forums General Discussion Watching Out for Elder Financial Abuse

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    Swartz, Linda

    I have a difficult client situation. I’d like to know if anyone else has been in this situation as well as advice on other ways to protect my client.

    My client is a 78 year old grandmother who, with her husband, has raised their granddaughter. The husband controlled and managed all aspects of their life but is now incapacitated. The grandmother has moderate cognitive impairment and is not capable of learning in a sustained way to understand her finances. We made a written agreement with her 21 yr old granddaughter that she will give a monthly stipend to the girl (transferred automatically into he girl’s account). The granddaughter has repeatedly charged additional costs to her grandmother’s credit card and debit card.

    I have told the girl to cease, that it is illegal and breaks their trust. I have just seen that she used the debit card again since that email. I do not have confirmation that she read the email. Both the credit card and the debit card are closed now. But when the gdaughter is in town, it is easily possible for the grandmother to give her the debit card to get groceries and then the cycle could start again.

    I have requested a meeting with the entire family to clarify what they can and cannot do regarding my client’s accounts. I have not yet gotten confirmation that anyone will attend.

    I’m not sure if I need to report the granddaughter now or try to resolve the problem at the family meeting (or by email, if that’s the only way). What are the rules for a DMM in this situation? I think of myself as a Mandated Reporter. Is that true?

    *I wonder if it is time for a licensed fiduciary to take my role to offer more protection to the grandmother. If there are any fiduciaries out there to let me know, I’d appreciate it.

    *I’d also like to get more training on our responsibility to report elder abuse and how to deal with family/friends involved. Does AADMM have that training available currently?

    Thank you,
    Emily Fox

    Kuehnis, Rita


    There is a webinar on just this topic tonight. If you cannot attend, I would call the office and see if you can listen to it after the fact. Other than that, you are a mandatory reporter and I would start with the bank. Further, there are pre-paid accounts that can be set up that limit where money is spent. If you are not insured as a fiduciary but instead for errors and omissions only, this is also something to consider changing. Finally, you may find that if there is not a trusted, capable 3rd party that knows what you are doing and what you are seeing, you may not be able to continue working with the clients. That would be sad but you need to protect your business as well. I always insure I have a trusted 3rd party engaged in my work whenever there is cognitive or visual impairment. And you want that relationship before you need it!

    Swartz, Linda


    Thank you for your guidance. Can you clarify what the webinar tonight is? I don’t see one on the schedule, but I certainly don’t want to miss it.

    Kuehnis, Rita

    It is one of a four part series. Call AADMM tomorrow and see if you can view it after the fact.


    I think that all the webinars are recorded but it takes a few days after the live one to access the info.

    I am wondering if the grandmother, your client, has an attorney of record and legal documents that describe her relationship and responsibilities toward the granddaughter. I would advise contacting the attorney and allowing him/her to protect his client. I would be wary about getting more involved in this situation without legal back up from the client’s attorney.

    Perino, Paul

    Anyone can report suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services. I don’t think that DMMs are mandated reporters but that doesn’t matter. If you see a situation that looks like financial abuse, report it and let the APS people do their jobs. They’ll act without revealing who reported the situation. Also, DMMs don’t really have the right to tell family members what they can and can’t do, unless you’ve been appointed by a court as the person’s guardian or conservator or if the person has named you as POA (and you carry the appropriate insurance for that).

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