Florida Law Prohibits Abuse or Exploitation of the Elderly
There are few things that are more upsetting than having your trust violated, especially when it’s in the hands of a financial advisor responsible for the preservation and growth of an individual’s life savings. Seniors, many of whom are trusting individuals who rely on their investments for income, are particularly susceptible to unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of vulnerability. For these reasons, the Florida Legislature has enacted laws which prohibits the exploitation or abuse of elderly people.
Chapter 825 of the Florida Statutes explains exploitation and abuse of the elderly and provides penalties for those found guilty of these crimes.
What is exploitation of the elderly?
“Exploitation” of elderly people occurs when an individual:
- Knowingly obtains or uses an elderly individual’s funds or assets to deprive the senior of the use of the funds
- Obtains or uses an elderly individual’s funds or assets when that individual knows or reasonably should know that elderly person lacks the capacity to consent
- Breaches a fiduciary duty to an elderly individual which results in an unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of property
- Misappropriates, misuses, or transfers without authority money belonging to an elderly individual
- A caregiver or a person in a position of trust intentionally or negligently fails to effectively use an elderly individual’s income and assets for the necessities required for that person’s support and maintenance
If a financial broker makes unauthorized trades or makes excessive and unsuitable trades on behalf of his or her elderly client, which deprives the elderly client of his or her funds or assets, this can be considered exploitation.
What is “abuse” of elderly persons?
“Abuse” of the elderly is:
- Intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly individual
- An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly individual
- When one actively encourages a person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly individual
Should a financial advisor exploit an elderly client by depriving them of their money or assets, this could lead to psychological injury. Money troubles can lead to distress and excess worry for a senior who is not able to make up for lost money and maintain their lifestyle or basic necessities.
Must the individual committing exploitation or abuse have knowledge of the victim’s age?
No, the individual committing exploitation or abuse cannot claim as a defense that he or she did not know the age of the victim. If the victim is over 60 years old and has a physical, mental, or emotional condition which impairs their ability to provide for his or her own care or protection, the victim is defined as an “elderly person” by Florida law. A financial advisor or other individual in a position of trust violates the Florida law related to elderly exploitation even if the financial advisor does not know that the victim is over 60 years old.
In a criminal prosecution for exploitation or abuse of the elderly, if the prosecutor files the appropriate motion, the court may expedite the trial on the docket after considering the age and health of the victim. This procedure attempts to bring the case to trial as quickly as possible.
What can you do if you or a loved one has been the victim of abuse or exploitation?
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of exploitation of the elderly, you may be able to bring your case to court of law or participate in securities arbitration.
The attorneys at Silver Law Group are leaders in the field of securities arbitration and elder financial fraud cases. We represent individual and institutional investors across the United States who have lost money at the hands of a trusted financial advisor. Scott Silver is currently the chairman of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Securities and Financial Fraud Group and routinely represents investors in securities arbitration claims. Contact us to review your situation.
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