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New Florida law criminalizes financial abuse of seniors

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2021 | Blog, Elder Law

A new law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis this spring aims to target the exploitation and financial abuse of Florida’s oldest citizens. Criminals often target seniors by stealing their personal information to access their accounts and make fraudulent transfers.

Review the provisions of the new law to help protect your elderly family members from financial scams and abuse.

Protection from financial scams

Under the bill, the Attorney General has expanded the power to prosecute crimes against adults ages 65 and older and those who have disabilities. This allows earlier intervention when family members suspect someone has taken advantage of their elderly loved one. The law also provides additional authority for family members and other concerned parties to file a legal exploitation claim on behalf of an elderly person.

Shields against caregiver exploitation

The law also protects against estate planning and inheritance fraud. Florida now bars anyone convicted of fraud or abuse of the deceased, including manslaughter, exploitation or neglect.

According to a New York Times poll, 22% of Americans lost money to this type of exploitation in 2020, an average of more than $50,000 when the perpetrator was a member of the victim’s family and about $17,000 when the offender was not a family member. In one high-profile case, a former University of Florida professor diverted millions from his elderly mother’s retirement accounts for his own use.

Families can take legal action if they believe a loved one has suffered financial exploitation by a caregiver or fallen victim to a costly scam. Florida has also released a tool that allows individuals to assess their own or another person’s risk for financial abuse.