This week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, state Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, and state Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, teamed up on a proposal to protect seniors from fraud.
The bill increases the jurisdiction of the Office of Statewide Prosecution, which is under Moody, to include “specified authority over crimes against elderly persons and disabled adults” and adds “additional methods of proving abuse and exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult by criminalizing the intentional isolation of vulnerable adults from family members.” The bill also
“Criminalizes the previously uncharged conduct of an exploiter who changes the terms of the will or trust of a vulnerable adult in order to benefit the exploiter or a co-conspirator” and ramps up possible punishment.
“Statutory changes sought in the bill would forfeit inheritances under a will, through a trust, through joint tenancy or contractual arrangements for a person convicted of abuse, neglect, exploitation or aggravated manslaughter. The bill also expands who may file an injunction for protection for exploitation of a vulnerable adult and extends the time of a temporary injunction to up to 45 days,” Moody’s office noted.
On Tuesday, Moody and the legislators showcased the proposal and why they had crafted it.
“With more than 5 million seniors living in Florida, the state enjoys a stellar reputation as an ideal place to retire. Sadly, criminals often concoct schemes to abuse positions of trust to isolate and exploit seniors in an effort to siphon retirement funds, steal inheritances or even neglect their physical needs,” Moody’s office noted.
“Scammers often target older Floridians thinking their crimes will go unnoticed or unreported. The abuse of a position of trust that causes significant financial or physical harm to a senior is not just a civil matter, it can be criminal and should be prosecuted. As attorney general, I am dedicated to protecting our great seniors and ensuring that criminals who target them are brought to justice. To better accomplish this important goal, we must strengthen our laws to ensure none of these criminals evade responsibility for their devious actions,” Moody said.
“I know Senator Burgess and Representative Burton are persistently committed to this vital mission of protecting our seniors, and I am excited to work with them this session to bolster our ongoing efforts to hold accountable anyone targeting vulnerable populations.” she added.
“Protecting our most vulnerable population has and always will be a top priority for me. This great bill ensures that their assets are taken care of and I am honored to work alongside Attorney General Ashley Moody and Representative Colleen Burton to combat and prevent these inexcusable crimes,” said Burgess.
“I am proud to sponsor HB 1041, Protection of Elderly Persons and Disabled Adults, and work alongside Attorney General Ashley Moody and Senator Danny Burgess to protect our vulnerable citizens. With this bill we are taking a necessary step to eliminate abuse of elderly and disabled individuals by setting limitations on who can represent them and setting guidelines on inheritance if abuse occurs. It is our responsibility to not allow our vulnerable citizens to be taken advantage of and we must take action now,” said Burton.
The Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar helped Moody and the legislators create the proposal.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.