“Financial professionals are squarely at the forefront of the effort because fraudsters aren’t after our clients’ knickknacks,” Moisand says. “They want the money. Fields may be on to something in trying to develop a standard protocol to weed out suspected abuse.”

Fields has proposed a set of questions that he thinks should be answered whenever an elderly person in a hospital or nursing home is asked to make financial decisions. The list includes such things as whether the person is on a psychoactive drug, whether his mental capacity has been challenged in court, whether there has been any complaint of abuse and whether he or she has been diagnosed as suffering from memory loss or impaired judgment, among other questions.

Fields also wants protocol developed to document the circumstances under which any financial changes are made.

“Financial advisors might create their own task force to come up with recommendations for legal reforms that are needed to prevent the financial exploitation of individuals with severe cognitive impairment at the time they execute wills, trusts, powers of attorney, deeds, mortgages and other important legal or financial documents,” Fields concludes. This could also “discourage the ruinous litigation which often results under such circumstances.”

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