Keesal, Young & Logan attorneys Steve Young and Kate Handy recently assisted a major broker-dealer in obtaining a conservatorship over three valuable accounts of a 91-year-old customer who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia. The broker-dealer’s internal supervisory and compliance employees detected that the adult children of the 91-year-old client may have been seeking to withdraw money from the customer’s accounts. The firm instituted a block on withdrawals to protect the senior. One of the customer’s adult children sought a court order to appoint himself as conservator over his father and his father’s estate, but the effort failed. The accounts remained frozen. At the same time, the customer’s estate planning was incomplete and out of date. He had designated his wife as the sole beneficiary of his accounts, but she had recently passed away.
The broker-dealer firm was so concerned about the vulnerable senior and his three blocked accounts that it petitioned the Superior Court to appoint a Public Guardian as the conservator of the three accounts. A Superior Court judge granted the petition and awarded the broker-dealer its costs incurred in obtaining the order.
We suspect with the graying of America (currently 45 million Americans are over the age of 65, and it is estimated that by 2050 approximately 83,700,000 Americans will be over the age of 65), combined with the scourge of Alzheimer’s Dementia, there may be numerous accounts of vulnerable seniors out there with no competent person at the helm. Where there is no trusted contact person, responsible broker-dealers may want to consider taking similar action to seek the appointment of the Public Guardian to protect the accounts of a vulnerable senior.