Missouri legislators have passed a bill that could expand the state’s elder law protections, though the state governor has yet to sign the bill into law. If Governor Jay Nixon decides to approve the bill that had wide bipartisan support, Missouri will join other states that have similarly strengthened their elder abuse protections this legislative session.
The law is specifically targeted at those who have close relationships with elderly people and their financial affairs. The bill criminalizes certain actions by those who have control over an elderly person’s finances, such as through a power of attorney, guardianship or other influential position. If the law passes, it will become a felony offense for such people to take advantage of the elderly person’s mental state or disabilities for their own financial gain.
Financial abuse of the elderly is believed to be widely underreported, and often goes without anyone noticing that it is happening. Those in positions of authority or influence are often able to conceal the abuse from the elderly person. Even if the elderly person notices that something is going on, they are often either reluctant to tell anyone or have no one to go to for support.
The new Missouri law targets those who steal from an elderly person, and allows judges to order restitution. It also allows state government agencies to reveal specific types of financial information to investigators.
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