Financial Abuse of the Elderly
Protecting Our Vulnerable Texas Seniors
Older Americans have lost over $37 billion annually due to financial scams and abuse, leaving many of the victims in financial ruin without opportunity for restitution. Texas, one of the fastest growing populations of senior citizens in the nation, has made significant strides to protect the elderly from financial abuse with the recent passing of House Bill 1156 which makes financial abuse of the elderly a crime.
Amending the penal code, the bill establishes harsher penalties and changes the offenses ranging from a Class B misdemeanor to a first-degree felony depending upon the property taken, appropriated, obtained, retained, or used. The law also outlines what is considered financial abuse or exploitation of this vulnerable population and involves the wrongful taking, appropriation, obtaining, or use of money or property from a person who is defined as a “elderly individual.”
What Constitutes Financial Exploitation
With advances in health care and considering average life expectancy, Americans on average will live until the age of 82, according to the World Atlas, exposing them to a longer period where they may become victims of financial fraud. Financial exploitation may involve coercion, manipulation, threats, intimidation, misrepresentation, or exerting undue influence by a party who has a relationship of confidence or trust with the victim, and includes familial relationships, caretakers, financial professionals, and others who have a legal or fiduciary relationship with the elderly person. In addition to taking property and money, the bill also covers failure to use a person’s income and assets appropriately for their care, maintenance, and support.
The new law goes into effect September 1, 2021. If you believe that someone is being physically or financially abused contact Texas Family and Protective Services Elder Abuse Hotline at 800.252.5400 or 512.834.3784. For help understanding how this law may affect your or your loved ones, please contact Cassie McGarvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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