When you open an account or update an existing account at a brokerage or a financial firm, you may be asked you if you want to designate a "trusted contact." This individual may be contacted in certain situations such as when financial exploitation is suspected or there are other concerns about your health, welfare, or whereabouts. Naming a trusted contact is optional, but may help protect your account assets.
The person you name as a trusted contact must be at least 18 years old. You'll want to choose someone who can handle the responsibility and who will always act in your best interest — this might be a family member, close friend, attorney, or third-party professional. You may also name more than one trusted contact.
Understandably, you might be concerned that the person you name could make transactions in your account but that's not the case. Your trusted contact will not be able to access your account or make financial decisions on your behalf (unless you previously authorized that person to do so). You are simply giving the financial firm permission to contact the person you have named.
Here are some examples of times when a financial firm might need to reach out to your trusted contact.
- To confirm current contact information when you can't be reached
- If financial exploitation or fraud is suspected
- To validate your health status if the firm suspects you're sick or showing signs of cognitive decline
- To identify any legal guardian, executor, trustee, or holder of a power of attorney on your account
A firm may only share reasonable types of information with your trusted contact. U.S. broker-dealers are required to provide a written disclosure that includes details about when information might be shared. Ask your financial firm or professional if you have any questions about the trusted contact agreement.
You may add, remove, or change your trusted contact at any time, and you'll need to keep your contact's information up-to-date. It's also a good idea to let the person you've chosen know so that he or she is prepared to help if necessary.