New York Life | January 23, 2018
Council Agent Rosie Franklin from the Charlotte, NC General Office developed a special relationship with an older couple who became her clients 12 years ago. The wife died, but Franklin continued visiting the now octogenarian husband Ed1, inviting him to her home for holiday dinners. In March 2015, she became concerned when Ed’s daughter and son-in-law, who had been largely absent, called to liquidate his assets, including several life insurance policies worth $140,000, to pay for round-the-clock home care.
They attempted to take the cash value of Ed’s life policies, but Franklin protected the policies. They liquidated his stock holdings (outside of New York Life) worth more than $120,000. When his son-in-law told Franklin they were putting Ed in the dementia wing of an assisted living facility, she was shocked. She was aware Ed had suffered a fall a few months before, but through conversations, Franklin was confident that Ed was alert and able to care for himself. The final straw came when Ed’s son told Franklin she was no longer allowed to see him or be his agent.
Not surprisingly, Ed’s daughter and son-in-law were caught using Ed’s savings to cover their own living expenses. They returned all but $11,000 of Ed’s savings to him. In exchange, he agreed to not press criminal charges.
It’s estimated that the elderly in the United States are exploited to the tune of upwards of $36.5 billion a year2,3. New York Life took major steps to protect its senior clients from such abuse when Corporate Compliance established a Vulnerable Adult Financial Abuse (VAFA) unit in 2014. VAFA provides training, education, and communication to help agents and employees identify and report early signs of cognitive impairment that may lead to the financial exploitation of our policy owners. Agent Rosie Franklin’s case highlights how agents are poised to play a significant role in protecting elderly clients — or vulnerable clients of any age — who may be potential victims of abuse.
The prevalence of elder abuse is approximately 10% when you include physical, psychological, verbal, and sexual abuse; financial exploitation; and neglect. An estimated 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Unfortunately, only 1 in 14 cases are reported to authorities, and, sadly, perpetrators tend to be family members, friends, neighbors, and home care aides.
1Note: the name and details of the client in this story have been changed.
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