Bill To Protect Seniors Needed In Michigan, Says Attorney Berry

Law Firm Newswire




Bloomfield Hills, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 13, 2013 – California recently passed a new bill intended to protect financially abused seniors.

The bill, AB 381, was drafted to protect elders who had their finances manipulated by someone who had power of attorney over their estate. The bill allows the elders some financial recovery in the form of reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs. The bill was signed into law earlier this year.

“Michigan elders sometimes need protection from the people they most trusted, people who had access to their estate and general assets,” says Michigan elder law attorney Christopher J. Berry. “Often, even when someone contemplates bringing a lawsuit in an attempt to recover their lost funds, the cost of the lawsuit is too prohibitive. Seniors often choose to let the defendant walk away rather than get their day in court, simply because they cannot afford the fight.”

Assembly Bill 381 allows the awarding of attorney costs and fees to the senior, if they win the court case. Though the bill cannot put a halt to elder financial abuse, it is designed to encourage seniors to speak up and feel more supported as they seek legal recourse.

In an effort to protect seniors, the state has taken new steps, including the creation of higher categories and prison terms in cases of financial exploitation. New levels have been added for embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000, which is now a 15-year felony. Embezzlement over $100,000 is now a 20-year felony.

MetLife Mature Market Institute released a report which found that one million elderly people in the U.S. are victims of financial abuse every year. Currently, there are no uniform federal laws which define the financial exploitation and abuse of elders.

If people suspect financial or physical exploitation or abuse of someone who is elderly or vulnerable, they may contact Michigan Adult Protective Services at 855-444-3911. They can also reach out to Area Agency on Aging 1B (metro Detroit) at 800-852-7795. And, the No Excuse for Elder Abuse campaign in Michigan is active and can be found at the Facebook page of the same name.

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