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Trump on elder law

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On any definition, Donald Trump is one – an elder.

We are attuned to expect the unexpected and sometimes offensive tweets from him mixed with self-proclaimed good news for some and bad news for others.

Recently, however, Trump signed into law the Senior Safe Act. The new law, with bipartisan support, extends immunity for individuals working in financial institutions (including banks) for disclosing suspected financial exploitation of an older person provided those individuals have received training on the signs of financial exploitation and the institution has implemented proper reporting procedures. The purpose of the law is to overcome the restrictions imposed by privacy laws.

Financial peak bodies in America generally praised the legislation. The Financial Services Institute, for example, commented:

“We applaud President Trump for signing the Senior Safe Act into law and providing seniors additional protection from financial abuse. Preventing elder financial abuse and increasing protection for seniors has been among FSI’s top priorities for several years. Financial advisors and financial services firms are often the first to detect possible financial abuse, so it is critical that they have proper training to identify potential abuse as well as the ability to report it without fear of violating privacy laws. After years of strongly advocating on this issue and working closely with members of Congress on the Senior Safe Act, we are glad to see this critical legislation signed into law.”

Yet, in what was universally regarded as good news for the elderly in the USA, Trump signed the legislation no doubt with his usual exaggerated hand flourish but with no fanfare, no signing ceremony, and, most surprisingly, no tweet. Perhaps he was in a state of subliminal denial not wanting to draw attention to the fact that the new law applied to him just like any other elder. It may also be related to his aversion to potentially having his financial affairs exposed to public scrutiny if, perish the thought, he should become a victim of elder financial abuse.

And in Australia?

Regrettably, we don’t have any such legislation let alone any robust discussion among financial institutions on the subject of mandatory reporting of elder financial abuse. The best we can get is a collection of motherhood statements in such places as the new Banking Code of Practice which comes into force on 1 July 2019. In Chapter 14 it states:

“We are committed to taking extra care with vulnerable customers including those who are experiencing…elder abuse and financial abuse”

As any politician would agree, there’s nothing like a good commitment to go that extra mile. That should fix the problem, shouldn’t it?

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