Office of Services to the Aging Urges Passage of Elder Abuse Bills

Contact: James McCurtis Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

June 10, 2010 The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) is urging the Michigan Legislature to pass a package of legislative bills that will protect Michigan's older adults from financial abuse. Michigan elders met with individual legislators and testified before the House Senior Health Security and Retirement House Committee today in support of the bills.

The meetings, testimonies and a rally all took place at the Capitol during Older Michiganians Day, an annual event where seniors from around the state advocate for various issues ranging from protecting services to preventing financial abuse. In 2005, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm created the Elder Abuse Task Force, which is designed to develop strategies to address elder abuse issues in the state.

"An estimated 80,000 Michigan citizens aged 60 or older are the victims of elder abuse each year," Granholm said. "As our population continues to age, it is key that we have laws in place, such as financial abuse laws, to protect our most vulnerable citizens against neglect and financial exploitation."

The four bills would:

- Require training for financial institution staff on financial exploitation, how to spot suspicious activity and how to report suspicious activity when detected;

- Expand the definition of abuse of vulnerable adults to include financial exploitation;

- Require financial institutions to inform account holders and provide written disclosure of the rights of joint account holders, so that those allowing access to their funds understand that joint account holders have the legal right to use the account and funds contained in it as if it is their own money; and

- Require courts to consider appointment of a conservator if a person under a guardianship has assets of more than a certain limit ($10,000). This is to prevent potential financial exploitation through a guardianship.

Michigan has nearly 1.7 million adults aged 60 years and older and that sector of the population continues to grow," said OSA Director Sharon Gire. "As the population grows, it is necessary to have laws intact that will protect our older citizens. We are encouraging our legislators to do what is right and to pass these bills, which are part of a series of bills recommended by the Governor's Task Force on Elder Abuse, so our older citizens will have peace of mind and protection."