The person you trust: so that your assets are well protected, no matter what happens

Your financial services advisor may have already suggested that you appoint a trustee. A look at the benefits of such a measure.

Under securities regulations, your financial services advisor is now required to take “reasonable steps” to obtain the name and contact information of a “trusted person” from you. This term refers to a friend or family member who will be responsible for assisting this professional under certain circumstances that you and he or she agree on in advance.

For example, your financial services advisor may contact your trusted person if they are concerned that you have become unable to adequately manage your finances due to incapacity (for example following illness or accident) or if they suspect you have been a victim of financial exploitation, events that they can stand at any age.

So what can a trusted person do? First, listen to a financial services advisor who will inform him of his concerns about you, as well as the facts that justify them. Then help him confirm his doubts. “These are delicate situations in which it is difficult for counselors to act,” says M.E Marie-Emmanuèle Cardinal, Assistant Vice President of Customer Relations and Complaints at National Bank Financial. Because if they have to protect their client’s interests, they also have to respect the rules regarding confidentiality. »

A trustee will have more discretion than a financial services advisor. She will be able to speak directly to you to try to understand the situation you are in, act so that you can be helped and communicate with your loved ones to inform them of the situation. “The advisor and the trusted person work together in the interest of the client,” says M.E Cardinal, the goal is always to help him preserve his financial assets.”

Are you worried that your trusted person has access to information about your assets or could be giving instructions to your financial services advisor without your knowledge? Keep calm. “A trusted person cannot under any circumstances have access to information about the client’s property,” says ME Cardinal, let alone make transactions or withdrawals for it.’

Difficult situations

A fiduciary acts when there is “incapacity, for example mental incapacity, which prevents the client from making an informed decision about the management of his property”, in the words of M.E Cardinal. A person who finds himself in such a situation often has difficulty listening to reason. And it’s even worse when he becomes a victim of financial exploitation by someone he has a relationship or romantic feelings for. “Usually this person is in denial,” says M.E Cardinal.

To face reality, a financial advisor can use the data in his hands. “When we show them the numbers, customers realize they’ve been tricked,” says M.E Cardinal. Some then come out devastated by the experience. »

What happens when, despite the information presented to them, the person doesn’t want to know anything? How to reconcile the financial adviser’s duty to act in the interest of his client and the client’s right to do what he wants with his assets? ME Cardinal explains: “Sometimes we have no choice but to say to the customer, ‘We believe you are a victim of exploitation. We have tried to help you, but we cannot tolerate what is happening. Move on.’ We may then have to ask them to transfer their assets elsewhere. We may then, in certain cases, contact their new financial institution and inform them of the situation so that we can continue to assist the client. »

In such situations, customers leave the financial institution. “Some come back later to tell their counselor that he was right, that they were abused,” says ME Cardinal.

How to continue?

To nominate a trustee, simply complete the form provided by your financial services advisor. Ideally, the chosen person will not be your representative or your legal representative. It won’t be someone you have a joint account with.

At this point you will be asked to provide not one, but rather two names. In the event that one of the designated persons refuses or has to withdraw, this expert may turn to the other person you have indicated.

Please note that you are not obliged to appoint a trustee and that if you agree to do so, you should inform the person you have chosen. Also note that you can subsequently cancel your decision at any time, remove an already named person or change one name to another.

This allows you to act with peace of mind!

For more information on the trusted person, see the Autorité des marchés financiers guide entitled Protecting a client in a vulnerable situation.

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