Law to Bolster Elderly Exploitation Law

Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Wednesday intended to strengthen protections for elderly and disabled Missourians against financial exploitation.

Missouri already has a law that makes it a crime to take financial advantage of an elderly or disabled person through deception, intimidation or force. However, officials say it has been difficult for prosecutors to prove cases of financial exploitation when the perpetrator has guardianship or power of attorney. Under the newly approved law, it now will be a crime to use “undue influence” to exploit someone’s “vulnerable state of mind, neediness, pain or agony.” Supporters of the legislation, such as the Missouri AARP, have said the measure will help fill some gaps in current law while strengthening enforcement. They say older people can be at particular risk for exploitation, and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said that about one of every five calls it receives to an elder abuse hotline involves allegations of financial exploitation.