Florida has taken a major stand against abuse and fraud perpetrated on senior and disabled citizens. A week ago, the Protection of Elderly Persons and Disabled Adults Bill was passed; it is headed to the governor for signature. The new law’s effective date would be July 1, 2021. The bill has a myriad of protections for seniors and disabled individuals. Key provisions include:
- A person who abuses, neglects, or exploits a senior or disabled individual cannot benefit from the victim’s estate.
- A person who has been convicted of certain crimes cannot serve as a senior or disabled person’s personal representative.
- The Office of Statewide Prosecution can prosecute crimes related to the exploitation of seniors and disabled folks.
- A senior or disabled individual cannot be unreasonably isolated from his or her family.
- A person cannot seek out a guardianship or fiduciary agency relationship for the purpose of their own benefit.
- A person cannot carry out intentional acts that would modify a victim’s estate plan.
- An Agent under a power of attorney can petition a court for an injunction against someone trying to exploit the senior or disabled Principal.
With the Department of Justice reporting that 10% of seniors are exploited and with Florida home to roughly 4.3 million seniors, it is a big step in the right direction to protect their state’s population. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has stated "If you move here, if you retire here, if you come to Florida because you want to live out your golden years, we will make sure you can do that free from fraud and abuse."
Hopefully this new legislation will be motivation for other states to move to further protect seniors and those with disabilities, especially in light of the increase in these abusive and fraudulent activities that the pandemic has afforded scammers.
May is National Elder Law Month. This month is a great time to inform your local community about elder abuse and ways to protect our seniors. Here are other ideas for ways to raise awareness.