California to Pass Bills on Financial Elder Abuse

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In an effort to combat financial abuse of the elderly, California is expected to pass three bills that will go further to protect elderly citizens. Entitled Assembly Bill 477, would have the effect of updating the definition of “undue influence” in addition to requiring notary publics to report instances in which they suspect abuse to be taking place. The passage of Bill 477 would come two months after Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 381, which allows courts to award attorney’s fees and court costs to seniors who have been victimized by a person who has power of attorney.

Financial elderly abuse is often committed by a family member or otherwise trusted person who has been given access to the victim’s personal information and control over his or her finances. This close relation between the victim and the offender is often the reason the crime goes unreported. There is also the chance that the elderly victim will have passed away due to his or her age before the crime is ever prosecuted.

Although California appears to be on a current trend of strengthening laws to protect seniors, the state has not had a positive track record of discouraging and consistently prosecuting instances of elder abuse. The Center for Investigative Reporting noted in 2009 that the California Department of Public Health instructed investigators to dismiss roughly 1,000 cases that involved elderly abuse or theft from seniors. The dismissal resulted in the closure physical, financial, and sexual abuse cases involving elderly victims that were not properly investigated.

A welcomed change to elderly law in California, the passage of Bill 477 could signify a shift in elderly victims’ willingness and optimism when considering whether or not to file charges against an abuser. Passage of the bill will likely make it easier for the elderly to successfully prove their cases and recover losses.

 

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