Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Michigan House Democrats Propose Bills to Protect Elderly

LANSING,Michigan.USA -- House Democrats are introducing a package of bills to protect elderly residents from financial abuse and keep family members who exploit them from inheriting their estates.

The 11-bill package also would set up a state-wide process for investigating the deaths of senior citizens from non-natural causes. Ingham and Genesee counties already have teams of officials who review such deaths.

"Sadly, seniors can't always rely on family members and caregivers to do what's best for them," said Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, a main sponsor.

The legislation would require employees of financial institutions to report suspicious transactions that could be signs of exploitation by care givers. The firms also would have to provide joint account-holders with a written summary of their rights.

The bills also would:

• Allow a third party to file a police complaint on behalf of a victim of elder abuse.

• Create a definition of financial exploitation under the state's Social Welfare Act.

• Define the rights of incapacitated people, who also would be protected.

• Require anyone granted power of attorney for a senior citizen to sign a contract detailing the obligations and fiduciary duties.

The National Council on Elder Abuse Says 17 percent of abuse cases involve family members. Two-thirds of the victims are women.

The package of bills is based on recommendations in 2006 from a task force on elder abuse appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

You can reach Gary Heinlein at (517)371-3660 or gheinlein@detnews.com


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