Ohio Elder Abuse Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Financial Services Professionals

Investment Management Update

Date: December 05, 2018

Key Notes:

  • Effective September 29, 2018, certified public accountants, notaries public, bank employees, investment advisers and financial planners are designated mandatory reporters of elder abuse under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 5101.63.
  • Mandatory reporters are required to immediately report suspected elder abuse to the relevant county department of job and family services.
  • Financial services professionals are in a unique position to identify potential elder abuse, especially financial exploitation, and as mandatory reporters they should be knowledgeable about the signs of abuse and proper methods for reporting.

Effective September 29, 2018, Ohio expanded its list of elder abuse mandatory reporters to include several categories of financial services professionals. The new financial services mandatory reporters per ORC Section 5101.63 are:

  • Certified public accountants registered in Ohio
  • Ohio-licensed real estate agents or brokers
  • Notaries public commissioned in Ohio
  • Employees of banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, or credit unions
  • Investment advisers
  • Financial planners
Defining Elder Abuse

Mandatory reporters are required to report when they have a reasonable belief that an adult is being abused or is in a condition that is the result of abuse. The law defines adult as an individual in Ohio who is over 60 years of age, living in an independent living arrangement, and unable to provide for his or her own care or protection. An independent living arrangement includes, but is not limited to, a private home, an apartment or a residential facility providing care to fewer than 16 unrelated adults. Abuse is broadly defined to include action (or inaction) by the adult or another individual that results in physical harm, pain or mental anguish for the adult.

The most common types of abuse reported in Ohio are:

  • Self-neglect
  • Neglect (by others)
  • Exploitation
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
Identifying Elder Abuse

The perpetrators of elder abuse can include the adults themselves, family, friends, acquaintances or complete strangers. In Ohio, the most commonly identified perpetrators are family members and the adults themselves.

Specific to financial services, the following non-exhaustive list of events might indicate potential abuse in the form of financial exploitation:

  • The abrupt or unexplained inclusion of additional names on an elder’s signature card
  • An unexplained transfer of funds to previously uninvolved relatives or others
  • An unexplained disappearance of funds or a sudden transfer of assets

Other indicators of abuse, not specific to financial exploitation, might include:

  • Appearing afraid of specific people
  • Changes in routine, personal hygiene or substance use
  • Signs of physical abuse such as bruises

Identifying elder abuse can be difficult as there are several potential indicators and the perpetrators are commonly  known  and trusted acquaintances of the victim. For a more in-depth review of elder abuse red flags and indicators, refer to Understanding Elder Abuse: A Guide for Financial Services Professionals, published by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).  Additionally, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has compiled a Senior Investor Protection Toolkit with information specific to financial exploitation.  

How to Report

Mandatory reporters are required to report suspected abuse based on a reasonable belief, but they are not required to determine if abuse is occurring, investigate further or make attempts to stop the abuse. All reports are confidential and are made anonymously.

Reports should be made to the county department of job and family services or its designated adult protective services agency in the county where the adult victim resides. If reporters are unsure of where to report, they can call the statewide toll-free elder abuse reporting line at 1‑855-OHIO-APS. When a report is made, a screener will seek to collect several pieces of information including, but not limited to, the adult’s name and address, suspected perpetrators and their access to the adult, circumstances regarding the abuse, and the adult’s current condition.

The penalty for not reporting is a fine of no more than $500. Ohio law protects individuals who report elder abuse from criminal or civil liability arising out of the report, investigation or testimony, except in cases of perjury or malicious purpose. Additionally, the law protects employees who report from retaliation by their employers.

For additional information on reporting, consult Understanding Elder Abuse: A Guide For Financial Services Professionals, published by the ODJFS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please contact:

Andrew J. Davalla
614.469.3353
Andrew.Davalla@ThompsonHine.com

Donald S. Mendelsohn
513.352.6546
Don.Mendelsohn@ThompsonHine.com

Krisztina Nadasdy
614.469.3243
Krisztina.Nadasdy@ThompsonHine.com

This advisory bulletin may be reproduced, in whole or in part, with the prior permission of Thompson Hine LLP and acknowledgment of its source and copyright. This publication is intended to inform clients about legal matters of current interest. It is not intended as legal advice. Readers should not act upon the information contained in it without professional counsel.

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© 2018 THOMPSON HINE LLP. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Questions About State Notice Filing Laws?

Investment advisers who register with the SEC under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, are also required to comply with applicable notice filing laws in the states in which they have advisory clients. See our list of links to the notice filing laws for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.