Financial Vulnerability Assessment
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Financial Decision Tracker
This brief interview scrutinizes a specific financial decision to determine concerns about capacity.View Financial Decision Tracker
Trainings & Consultations
Some level of training is required by anyone interested in conducting the interviews available here. Training to use the Decision Tracker is available to everyone. The Vulnerability Assessment, however, should be conducted only by a trained certified mental health professional.
Groups or organizations interested in receiving training for either interview should contact Dr. Lichtenberg. He conducts trainings in person, via conference call or webinar. Participants learn the science behind the interview tools and how to administer and score the interviews. Dr. Lichtenberg also consults with organizations to help them understand the problem of financial exploitation and how these interviews can protect their employees and the older clients they serve.
Dr. Lichtenberg explains the research background and use of his Financial Vulnerability Assessment (named FDRS here). Details are punctuated by excerpts from actual interviews.
Frequently Asked Questions
Influence or coercion by someone who intentionally uses his or her role and power to deceive and exploit the trust, dependency, and fear of another and gain decision-making control. The influencer uses various techniques or manipulations over time to gain power and compliance. These can be so subtle that the victim doesn't realize he or she is being manipulated. Many cases of financial exploitation result from undue influence.
Some common signs are:
- Significant gifts to people like caregivers, service providers and acquaintances outside the usual sphere of the older adult's love and commitment.
- Gifts to anyone that are so large they threaten the older adult's economic security.
- Loans, particularly if undocumented, to anyone.
- The older adult's fiduciary (such as an attorney or trustee) making decisions that reflect poor judgment or conflict of interest
- Estate planning documents naming non-family members as fiduciaries or beneficiaries.
- Joint accounts with non‑family members.
- Checks prepared by others but signed by the older adult.
- Bequests or other arrangements favoring one child, particularly if that child lives with the older adult.
- Large discrepancies between the older adult's understanding of his or her estate and its true value
- Excessive fees charged by professional finance managers such as trustees, attorneys, financial advisors and stockbrokers.
A conservator is a person (family member, friend, or paid professional), agency or institution appointed by the court to make financial decisions for someone a judge has determined is unable to make such decisions.
A guardian is a person (family, friend, or paid professional), agency, or institution appointed by the court to make personal decisions for another. Unlike a conservator, a guardian's authority is often limited by statutes and can also be limited by the judge to specific tasks or decisions based on the retained capacities of the person.
A power of attorney is a legal instrument used to delegate authority to another. The person who signs a power of attorney is called the "principal," and the person granted the authority is delegated is the "agent." A "durable" power of attorney enables the agent to act for the principal even after the principal loses capacity to make decisions, and is effective until revoked by the principal or until the principal's death. A durable power of attorney generally refers to financial decisions and can be an effective alternative to guardianship, allowing an individual to plan for the control of his or her affairs in the event of incapacity.
The law starts with an assumption of capacity, which refers to decision making regarding a number of financial tasks, such as general financial management of assets and debts, writing checks, paying bills, knowing and using currency and coins, making contracts and writing wills.
Financially incapacity means a person is unable to manage their financial resources. This can be the result of a number of conditions including mental illness, dementia, drug use, physical illness and disability. Determination of incapacity is complex. Psychological evaluations, medical reviews, as well as legal standards (that vary from state-to-state) are used in the determination.
Contact us and we can work with you to bring Older Adult Nest Egg to your company or organization. Adult Protective Services employees have already been trained in several parts of the country, and we are collecting data on use of the interview in Virginia, Minnesota and New York. The Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center has also made the Tracker interview part of its longitudinal study on cognitive changes.
Motivational interviewing tries to change behavior by gently moving a person from indecision and uncertainty and toward making positive decisions and accomplishing established goals. The technique helps people resolve their ambivalence and insecurities through empathetic listening, helping clients become aware of discrepancies between their goals and behavior, avoiding arguments and direct confrontations, and supporting self-efficacy and optimism.The client is central and is guided to generate the arguments and solutions for change.
Institute of Gerontology
At Wayne State University
87 East Ferry St.,
Pauline Knapp Building
Detroit, MI 48202