Any older person can be the victim of elder financial abuse, even the well-known New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor.

And financial advisors can be in the forefront of preventing the financial abuse and the physical and psychological abuse that often accompanies it, according to Philip Marshall, Brooke Astor’s grandson and advocate.

Marshall, who has taken on the cause of fighting elderly financial abuse and advancing the rights of the elderly, began pursuing this cause after he accused his father, Anthony Marshall, of exploiting his grandmother.

The case became national news in the mid-2000s. Philip Marshall helped get the courts to appoint a guardian for his grandmother, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Anthony Marshall, who served time in jail for fraud before he died.

Philip Marshall, who now uses his experiences to advance elder justice, said his grandmother fit the profile of the thousands of elderly people who are exploited by strangers, caregivers and family members every year, even though she was richer than most.

Marshall was a keynote speaker at the Invest In Women conference sponsored by Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines held in Houston.

“When I was trying to protect my grandmother, I thought the financial exploitation was the least of the problems. It ended up finances were the key.” That is why “financial advisors need to lead the way in identifying financial abuse in their clients and helping to stop it.”

“Women advisors are particularly well suited for noticing the red flags of possible abuse: The new person who appears at the bank with the vulnerable elder, the change in the will, a new trusted friend brought to the financial advisor’s office,” Marshall said. “Men tend to be color-blind to these red flags.”

Marshall first became suspicious of his father when Anthony Marshall sold a painting Astor loved for $10 million and took a multi-million-dollar commission for himself for the sale. Astor had promised on numerous occasions to give the painting to the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art and she had promised to donate much of her fortune to charity.

Her son Anthony convinced her she was going broke and took control of much of her fortune while she was coping with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

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