Thursday, December 30, 1999

Right Of Elders and Legal Reform

Subj: Rights of Elders
From: (Bentley Lipscomb)
Good evening Mr. Fields:

I certainly stand by my quote. I have worked diligently with the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government in Florida for the past 7 years trying to get them to enact more safeguards for Florida's Elders. When I was Secretary of DOEA, I lobbied AARP to support the recommendations of the Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Taskforce set up by Governor Chiles, and on which I served.

I have spoken forcefully and in numerous public forums on this issue. I had the legislative liaison of the Department of Elder Affairs press the legislature and Florida's Supreme Court to take aggressive action to increase protections for these vulnerable elders.

You ask: "Why then haven't you (addressing Cathy Landau-Painter) or Bentley responded to my proposal that people be given a basic right to express their expectations and establish clear standards when the law does not?" I have. I passed the information you shared with Cathy on to the state legislative committee (SLC). This is the entity in the AARP structure that is empowered to make the decision to, or not to, pursue legislative remedy for issues brought to it by AARP members. I, nor any other staff member of AARP, tells the SLC what to do.

You go on to state in the next paragraph, "For example, I have proposed that people should have the right to require notification of parties whose interests they want to protect prior to executing documents that affect those interests. Questions of fraud and undue influence should be settled then, while the signer is still capable of being examined for the purpose of determining competency, fraud, and undue influence. This is not usually possible under existing law, which aids a wrongdoer in withholding such documents until after the signer has deceased." I think that this is a good proposal and have so stated, however it can only be implemented by changing the existing law and that is why I took the action outlined to you previously.

I know that you feel strongly about what happened to your father. I am sure that you are correct in your assumption that it has happened many other times to many other families, but if change is to occur we must prevail in changing the law. No one can do it by fiat.

ID: Bentley Lipscomb's Endorsement of Proposed Legal Reform
Comment Bentley describes here his background as the Secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs in Florida. He issue this endorsement during his tenure as Executive Director of AARP in
Florida, when I responded to his call on page 9 of the May 1999 AARP Bulletin for more
legislation to protect people who can't protect themselves.

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