Elder Care and Bankers

Bankers Offer Elder Care?

Should you trust your banker to provide eldercare services too? Banks are offering elder care services to help aging clients. Can you trust them?

The term “banker” is used broadly to cover local banks, trust companies, brokers and advisers. Some institutions, like trust companies, take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously – it’s part of the corporate culture. They take their client’s trust seriously.

Consolidating assets is bank-speak for “Give us all your money.”

Maybe it’s because most trust company clients are pretty sophisticated. They’re more likely to have a legal adviser who will question any improprieties.  Trust companies depend on professional recommendations and referrals to grow their revenues and I think they’re less likely to exploit an elderly client because of this.

Not so the retail brokers and neighborhood bank branches. They have revenue goals and many are paid on commissions which is a potential conflict of interest.  They’re great at building relationships but often are weak on financial product knowledge and elder law issues.

Firms like Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo have elder services. The idea is to help make life simpler for the elderly by “consolidating assets”,  which translates to “give us all your money.” The client and the client’s family can benefit by consolidating assets. It’s easier to track, protect and transfer assets when they’re all in one spot.

Just be careful about which institution you choose.  Trust companies are better equipped to provide legal council and fee based services. Some brokers are paid commissions on transactions which means they may be tempted to recommend big pay-day products (like annuities) instead of liquid but low commission products like treasury bills.

It may make sense to contact a top quality firm like Fiduciary Trust Company in Boston to help consolidate and manage assets but many trust companies have large minimum account size requirements.

Final advice: don’t abdicate responsibility to any institution.

See  Beyond Estate Planning: Bankers Tackle Elder Care

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