Lansing -- Part of a package of bills to prevent financial exploitation of senior citizens passed in the state House Wednesday afternoon.
Called the Elder Abuse Protection Plan, the package is meant to address a surge in abuse complaints, which have increased 40 percent in Michigan since 1998, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.
Under the bills, financially exploiting a vulnerable adult would be a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Children who abuse, neglect or exploit their aging parents would be disinherited. And third parties would be able to file criminal complaints to stop and prevent abuse cases in nursing homes and elsewhere.
The bills have to pass the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to become law.
"Now, the victim has to voluntarily go in and file the complaint themselves," said state Rep. Andy Neumann, D-Alpena, chairman of the House Committee on Senior Health, Security and Retirement.
"(Under the bills) a friend, or somebody from the financial community, like a banker, could file a complaint and have it investigated," he said.
Based partly on the findings of Granholm's Elder Abuse Task Force, the package has been lauded by advocates worried about the rise in elder abuse. Michigan's Adult Protective Services received more than 16,300 reports of adult mistreatment in 2008.
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House OK's Bills Targeting Elder Abuse, Financial Exploitation