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New Federal Law Aimed at Protecting Seniors

 Posted on October 20, 2017 in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyOlder men and women are often among the most vulnerable members of our society. Children, of course, are also vulnerable, but as a whole, we have been historically more likely to aggressively protect children than adults and seniors. Unfortunately, this means that is relatively easy for elder men and women to be exploited—often by those who have been entrusted with guardianship or other responsibilities. With proper estate planning that includes contingency clauses and protections, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of such abuse. A new federal law will also provide additional help in the battle against elder abuse and exploitation.

Bipartisan Efforts

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act was drafted by Representative Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Representative Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican. The bipartisan measure passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

The bill provides for increased training for federal prosecutors and investigators in the areas of elder abuse and exploitation. Under the new law, each federal district will also have an assigned prosecutor to handle cases of alleged abuse by guardians, care providers, and others. The law also sets up a system for better sharing information among federal prosecutors across the country. A separate section of the new law provides increased penalties for those who conduct telephone and email scams designed to exploit seniors.

Choosing Someone You Trust

While the effects of the new law remain to be seen, it is important to keep in mind that proper estate planning can help protect from abuse and exploitation in the future. You have the ability to select trusted individuals to serve in fiduciary roles. Unfortunately, only those you trust can betray that trust, but there are other things you can do to create checks and balances for your estate.

For example, if you appoint one person as your Power of Attorney for property, you could select someone else to serve as trustee of the trust that contains the majority of your estate. The two would need to work together in managing your affairs, which ensures that neither would have the unfettered access or opportunity to exploit his or her role.

We Can Help

It can be difficult to accept that you could someday be at risk for abuse or exploitation by someone close to you, but an experienced Lombard estate planning attorney can help minimize that risk. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at our firm today.


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