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Financial or Physical Abuse of Elderly Family Members - What Remedies are Available?

Posted by attorney Mark Breneman

The Minnesota Vulnerable Adult Act - A primary focus of the law is the growing problem of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults as well as physical abuse.

A 2009 study estimates that older Americans are losing $2.6 billion a year and that the current recession may increase vulnerability. Legislation passed in Minnesota during the past several sessions increases the authority of officials to pursue and prosecute those who take advantage of vulnerable adults. A 20 year felony for conviction was created for circumstances when the amount stolen exceeds $35,000. Immunity provisions for reporters of abuse were clarified. Anyone who in good faith reports suspected maltreatment is immune from liability. Damages equal to three times the loss or $10,000, whichever is greater is authorized. There are three basic kinds of maltreatment:

Abuse - physical, emotional or sexual

Neglect - caregiver neglect or self neglect

Financial exploitation

If you suspect abuse - either from unscrupulous salespeople, family members, care-providers or acquaintances, contact your local county law enforcement or social services. Each of the 87 Minnesota counties has its own adult protection unit which is responsible for investigating complaints and providing protective services. State agencies investigate regulated facilities such as nursing homes or other care providers. The sooner you act, the better.

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