Get an extra level of protection from elder abuse for yourself or someone you love

When the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly set out to measure elder abuse in 2015, it found that about one in 12 Canadian residents age 55 and older (8.2 per cent) had experienced elder abuse in the previous 12 months. For 30 per cent of those (1 in 40, or 2.6 per cent) of all of those over age 55, the abuse was financial.1 That translates into 244,176 Canadians fending off demands for their money, fighting to access their money and sometimes losing their money – in a single year.

Responding to worrying statistics like this, the Canadian Securities Administrators (the umbrella organization representing all of Canada’s provincial and territorial securities regulators) recently recommended that advisors ask their clients for the name of a “trusted contact person” (TCP) they can get in touch with if they have concerns about a client’s financial exploitation or diminished mental capacity.  

To benefit from an extra layer of protection, consider connecting your advisor to a close friend, family member or caregiver that can be trusted to ensure your best interests come first. You may wish to propose this to your loved ones as well. If your advisor’s dealer does not already have a procedure and form regarding the TCP, you should encourage them to adopt one.

It’s important to emphasize that the TCP is not the same as a power of attorney – another person your advisor should have on record. A power of attorney has authority to make financial decisions on your behalf under certain circumstances, such as if you become incapacitated. On the other hand, the TCP should have absolutely no interest in or involvement in making financial decisions for you. In fact, the TCP is someone an advisor can reach out to if he or she feels a power of attorney isn’t acting appropriately.

That said, like a power of attorney, the TCP must be someone who has earned your trust and whom you are confident will act in your best interests. Think about how anyone you’re considering would react if your advisor called to discuss concerns about your recent financial decisions or memory lapses. Would the potential TCP listen to your advisor with an open mind? Just as important, is the potential TCP someone you would hear out if he or she in turn raised those concerns with you?

Once you have someone in mind, share the TCP 101 information in the sidebar with your potential TCP. It is important for a TCP to understand exactly what the role is and is not. For example, it is an opportunity to help protect you if you become financially vulnerable either because of age-related mental health issues or because other people in your life try to take advantage of you. It is not a licence to make decisions for you or to take away your control over your own financial affairs. From your advisor’s perspective, it’s also not authority to share information with the TCP about your financial accounts, unless you’ve given separate permission for this. 

Sadly, elder abuse is a reality for too many Canadian seniors. Naming a TCP allows your advisor to call the person you’d prefer if he or she suspects something is amiss. It’s one of the ways you can provide for an additional safeguard for your money and it’s an important part of good financial planning. Consider sharing this option with your loved ones who could also benefit from an additional layer of protection.  

TCP 101

What is a trusted contact person (TCP)?

A TCP is someone your advisor can reach out to if he or she is concerned you are being financially exploited or are making poor decisions based on diminished mental capacity.

Who needs a TCP?

Seniors, who can be more vulnerable to both financial fraud and age-related mental health issues, should have a TCP – but it’s also a valuable additional layer of protection that can benefit anyone.

Why do advisors recommend a TCP?

Advisors are often in the best position to see changes in financial behaviour that may indicate a problem. With a TCP, they have someone to contact with their concerns who has your best interests at heart.

How is a TCP different from a POA?

A power of attorney (POA) gives someone else the authority to make financial decisions for you, either right away or if you become incapacitated. A TCP does not and will never have this authority.

How do you set up a TCP?

Talk to your advisor about what is required to name a TCP and allow your advisor to share limited information with him or her. The paperwork is relatively simple but can vary from advisor to advisor