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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Wisconsin enacts SB 628 to protect vulnerable adults

State Issues Wisconsin Consumer Protection State Legislation

State Issues

On March 22, the Governor of Wisconsin signed SB 628 (the “Act”), which “allows financial service providers to refuse or delay financial transactions when financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult is suspected.”

The Act would authorize financial service providers to refuse or postpone financial transactions on accounts held by or benefiting a vulnerable adult—a term defined as “an adult at risk or an individual who is at least 65 years of age”—if there is a reasonable suspicion of financial exploitation. The Act would not mandate covered financial service providers, which included financial institutions, mortgage bankers, brokers, and loan originators, among others, to take such action. Additionally, financial service providers were allowed, but not obligated, to act on information from elder-adult-at-risk agencies, adult-at-risk agencies, or law enforcement regarding potential financial exploitation. The Act mandated that financial service providers give notice when transactions are refused or delayed and defined the time limits for such actions. It also permitted financial service providers to refuse to accept a power of attorney if financial exploitation is suspected. Moreover, the Act outlined a procedure for financial service providers to compile a list of contacts that a vulnerable adult authorizes, which can be used if exploitation is suspected, and authorized the financial service provider to share its suspicions with designated individuals, including those on the list. Financial service providers acting in good faith would be granted immunity from any criminal, civil, or administrative liability for actions such as (i) refusing or not refusing a financial transaction; (ii) refusing to accept or accepting a power of attorney; (iii) contacting or not contacting a person to convey suspicion of financial exploitation; and (iv) any action based on a reasonable determination related to these measures. The Act went into effect on March 23.