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Strenthening Guardianship Protections a Key Priority in 2013

Strengthening protections for vulnerable adults and standing up to consumer fraud are two of AARP Minnesota’s biggest priorities.  In 2013, one legislative proposal combines both of these into a single bill and, as you might have assumed, has that strong backing of AARP.

House File 40 and Senate File 7 are companion bills that will require background checks for prospective guardians to better protect elders under guardianship.  Under this legislation, a senior or their family would be alerted if a prospective guardian has been disbarred, had a license revoked, been prosecuted or convicted of a felony, accused of fraud or gone through bankruptcy.

AARP recently distributed a memo to members of the legislature detailing our support of the legislation.

 

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TO: Representative Debra Hilstrom

FR:  Amy McDonough, Associate State Director, Advocacy

RE:  AARP Support for House File 40, the Guardianship Protection Act

CC: Members of the House Public Safety and Finance Committee­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

AARP supports House File 40, legislation that will help protect elders and other vulnerable adults under guardianship.  We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Hilstrom, as well as Attorney General Lori Swanson and Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo on this issue.

The proposed legislation would improve Minnesota’s background check process for guardians and conservators and provide stronger safeguards against financial exploitation by:

  • Expanding background checks to include whether a guardian or conservator has ever been denied a professional license by the State related to the responsibilities of a fiduciary duty, or whether they’ve had a license conditioned, suspended or revoked;
  • Requiring that guardians and conservators disclose additional information that may bear on their soundness as a guardian;
  • Providing that background checks be conducted every two years, instead of every five years as the law currently provides; and
  • Requiring that guardians disclose the above information, as well as any changes in their criminal history, within 30 days of the incident;

AARP has a long history of fighting for protections against financial exploitation of seniors and we support House File 40 because it will help prevent this type of abuse.

Elder abuse, like many other forms of domestic abuse, is an often hidden phenomenon that affects hundreds of thousands of older Americans. Older Americans are disproportionately affected by financial fraud.

The annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be $2.9 billion nationwide, up 12% from the 2008 figure.  Elder financial abuse is by far the greatest crime committed against those ages 65 and older. “The Metlife Study on Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation Against America’s Elders” (June 2011)

Financial abuse of seniors can cause injures far beyond the pocketbook. This abuse frequently affects seniors' physical and emotional health. The enactment of stronger safeguards against the abuse of elders is very important for older Minnesotans and their families.

We urge members of the Committee to support House File 40.

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