By: Richard Black/Guardianship Concerns
Much of the recent drama in Washington, D.C. leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. Politicians from the President on down seem to be primarily concerned with self-promotion and partisan backbiting. Is anyone truly committed to protect and aid the average citizen - especially our vulnerable and elderly?
Recently we got some relief.
On October 19, 2017 President Trump signed the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act into law. Portions of this bill has been proffered in federal legislation since 1986 when the Associated Press did its ground-breaking 2,200 case expose on the rampant abuses found nationwide in adult guardianships.
More than 20 bills have been proposed since then to insure federal protections for adults under guardianship. All were killed due to the successful lobbying efforts by the various state bar and the American Bar Association lobbyists, and state and national guardianship associations.
According to the National Center for State Courts, adult guardianships are a $50 billion business that affects nearly 180,000 new conscripts nationwide each year. While guardianship should be the last option considered to protect a person, due to the money involved, and the near non-existent oversight by the courts, it is often the only option considered by elder law attorneys, guardians and the judges who support them, when alleged incapacitated persons are presented to the court.
Guardianship allows court allies to liquidate the estates of those they conscript for their benefit. It has been well reported nationally these abuses conducted under the color of law over the last 30 years in adult guardianship proceedings in Nevada. While the Nevada legislation adopted changes in the 2015 and 2017 sessions to improve protections for the elderly, we too often see courtroom practices that continue to reward suspected exploiters even today.
This new law requires the following:
TITLE I: Supporting Federal Cases Involving Elder Justice. Appointment of federal law enforcement to train and investigate elder abuse complaints. Appoint an elder justice coordinator (EJC) and Assistant US attorney in each federal judicial district.
TITLE II: Improved data collection and federal coordination.
TITLE III: Enhanced victim assistance to elder abuse survivors.
TITLE IV: Robert Matava Elder Abuse Prosecution Act Of 2017 - Enhanced penalties for telemarketing and email marketing fraud directed at elders.
TITLE V: Miscellaneous – Reaffirms court-appointed guardianship oversight and establish programs to assess the fairness, effectiveness, integrity, and accessibility of adult guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. Implement changes deemed necessary to enable the annual accountings and other required conservatorship and guardianship filings to be completed, filed and reviewed electronically to better enable courts to detect fraud and the exploitation of protected persons.
This law is primarily focused on white collar crimes and is targeted to reduce criminal activity endorsed in adult guardianship and probate proceedings in Nevada’s courts. What Nevada elected, and judicial leadership and local law enforcement has failed to address, hopefully now, federal resources will step in to insure much needed protections for the vulnerable and elderly under guardianship.