The American Bar Association announced Tuesday a new education initiative it was launching with two other organizations to help lawyers spot senior financial abuse.
The Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program will have its first training effort as a 90 minute class at the bar association’s annual convention August 9 in Boston.
In the coming year, the program’s continuing education courses are expected to be offered at association conferences and online in three to six states, and it will have a national rollout in 2015.
While the sponsors don’t have a goal for how many attorneys they hope to reach, they noted a similar program for the medical community headed by the Investor Protection Trust in 2010 has trained 7,800 health-care professionals and is being offered in 26 states.
When announcing the program, the creators said a poll has shown that one out of three attorneys say they are or may be dealing with elder financial fraud victims.
More than a quarter of the lawyers told the pollster they are dealing weekly or monthly with victims’ children, who are either seeking help for their parents or are accused of defrauding them.
An increasing number of states are imposing an obligation on attorneys to report clients who are abusing a fiduciary duty to an elderly individual and getting away from the notion of loyalty to the client alone, said Charles Sabatino, the director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, at a press briefing.
The bar association is coordinating the program with the Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit investor education organization, and the Investor Protection Institute. Don Blandin, the president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust, said the goal of the program is to improve the communication among legal professionals, older Americans, adult children and state securities regulators in order to head off financial swindles before the damage is done.