Friday, July 21, 2017

New Legislation to Protect New York Seniors from Exploitation and Abuse

There were many important bills passed at the end of the legislative session to protect senior citizens from abuse and exploitation, as well as streamline the estate planning process to give New Yorker’s greater peace of mind.

Elder abuse is an under reported crime that preys on the people who worked so hard to build our communities. These balanced pieces of legislation will help health care workers and bank employees identify abuse and fraud so they can notify the proper authorities. With a federal administration that’s intent on making big cuts to social services programs and regulatory protections, it’s important that we take steps in New York to ensure seniors can lead safe, independent, healthy lives.

Elder abuse is a far too common occurrence. In New York State, approximately 260,000, or 1 in every 13 seniors, experienced some form of elder abuse in the previous year, with financial exploitation representing the most common form of abuse.[1] It’s essential to address this issue now as aging baby boomers are projected to double the number of older adults by 2030, potentially increasing the prevalence of elder abuse.[2]

One Assembly bill would require the state Office for the Aging to create guidelines to help health care providers and employees identify abuse and maltreatment of senior citizens (A.8258-A). Doctors and nurses often have long-term, trusting relationships with their patients and are in a unique position to identify signs of abuse.  This bill passed both houses and will be considered by the Governor in the coming months.

Another measure directs the superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services to develop training materials to help bank employees recognize and report signs of financial exploitation (A.6395). Further, the bill would protect banks and other financial institutions from state liability when reporting suspected financial abuse in good faith.  This bill passed in the Assembly.

It’s critical that we empower the people who interact with older New Yorkers on a regular basis to do and say something if they suspect that a customer is being scammed. These measures ensure that senior citizens have additional allies who are looking out for their financial well-being.

To make sure seniors are aware of all the banking options available to them, the Assembly passed a measure that requires banks to notify customers seeking to open a joint account if the bank also offers convenience accounts (A.8217-A). Unlike joint accounts which grant the co-signer the right of survivorship and thus all the assets of the account if the other signer passes away, convenience accounts allow the other person on the account to make basic transfers or withdrawals which must be in the best interest of the main account holder, simplifying check writing and bill paying. If the holder of a convenience account passes away, the money in it becomes part of their estate. In addition, it’s easier to prosecute those who exploit a convenience account, rather than a joint one.  This bill passed in the Assembly and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

The final piece of legislation streamlines the estate planning process by simplifying the power of attorney (POA) form to a single document with more straightforward, transparent language (A.8120-B). This will not only greatly simplify the process of executing a POA, but will also help ensure that third parties honor a valid POA. The failure of a third party to honor a valid POA can have dire financial consequences for seniors. Therefore, the bill would also allow the courts to issue sanctions against third parties who unreasonably and unfairly refuse to honor a valid POA form. This too passed in the Assembly and was sent to the Senate.

As a member of the aging committee, I was honored to cosponsor and vote for these important pieces of legislation

As times change and technology and services evolve, we need to make sure we’re not leaving anyone behind, especially the seniors who have done so much for their families and our communities and deserve to live with dignity and respect. This legislation will ensure our regulations and protections keep up with and adapt to society so that we can help prevent elder abuse before it happens.

Full Article & Source:
New Legislation to Protect New York Seniors from Exploitation and Abuse

2 comments:

Sissy said...

It's a start!

Sara Harvey said...

If they started holding these people accountable and charging them with crimes, doing jail time, sanctions, losing their license, suspension, FIRED, you would see these numbers drop and you wouldn't have to have bills passed to keep legislation employed.