Advisors are asking their clients for a trusted contact. Choose wisely


When you mull over who could fill that role, consider who has good judgement and would know how to handle the responsibility — and respect your privacy — if they have to step in.

“Don’t just pick your oldest child because the child is your oldest,” Alaimo said.

In fact, she said, the person doesn’t even need to be family.

“It could be your attorney or accountant or another third-party professional,” Alaimo said. “If you do that, the person also has accountability … for ethical behavior.”

She also said that while the rule is aimed at preventing elderly fraud, the time to name a trusted contact is before you reach a point where your own judgment is slipping.

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In other words, you don’t want to inadvertently name someone who actually could be poised to take advantage of you.

“What the rule is trying to accomplish is all good stuff,” Alaimo said. “But the danger is that sometimes an older person can trust someone — like a caregiver — when that is the very person that could end up harming them financially.”

It also is a good idea, she said, to tell your family about the trusted contact.

“You might be better off being transparent about that selection so everyone knows who’s going to be contacted,” Alaimo said. “It might also discourage anyone from trying to do something wrong if they know a trusted contact is in effect on your account.”

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