Elder Financial Abuse and California Bill AB140

Elder financial abuse has reached epidemic proportions in California as financial predators target and exploit the most vulnerable members of our community. While financial abuse can take many forms, elders and dependent adults are particularly vulnerable to the undue influence of others because of illness, isolation, lack of mobility, and dependence. Often such manipulation does not constitute actionable fraud but nevertheless results in grievous exploitation and catastrophic loss. While existing law provides civil remedies for taking an elder’s property through undue influence, the statutory definition of “undue influence” is archaic and limited. AB140 is a bill that the Assembly Judiciary Committee passed out of committee yesterday. The bill is now referred to as the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care, chaired by Assembly member Mariko Yamada. This bill would modernize the definition of ‘undue influence’ by providing courts with a practical, reasonable, and workable definition that balances the vulnerability of the victim, the apparent authority of the influencer, the tactics employed, and the fairness of the result. The effects of financial abuse are particularly catastrophic for elders because elders have a limited ability to recover from economic loss. Not only are exploited elders more likely to require public assistance, but they are three times more likely to die as a result of the trauma of exploitation. This problem will only get worse as our population ages and life expectancies increase. AB140 represents a critical opportunity to protect our elders from the devastating effects of exploitation by bringing the definition of undue influence into the 21st Century.

For those who support this bill but have not yet had a chance to send a letter in support, it would be very helpful if you would now send this letter to Assembly member Yamada. Here is a sample letter you can copy, paste, and adapt under your letterhead:

Assembly Member Mariko Yamada Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee 1020 N Street, Room 360A Sacramento, California 95814 Re: Support for AB140 – Definition of Undue Influence

Dear Assembly Member Yamada:

I strongly urge you to pass Assembly Bill 140, a bill that will increase protection for elders who are exploited by undue influence.

[Describe your and/or your organization’s involvement with elder issues.]

Elder financial abuse has reached epidemic proportions in California as financial predators target and exploit the most vulnerable members of our community. While financial abuse can take many forms, elders and dependent adults are particularly vulnerable to the undue influence of others because of illness, isolation, lack of mobility, and dependence. Often such manipulation does not constitute actionable fraud but nevertheless results in grievous exploitation and catastrophic loss. While existing law provides civil remedies for taking an elder’s property through undue influence, the statutory definition of “undue influence” is archaic and limited. AB140 would modernize this definition by providing courts with a practical, reasonable, and workable definition that balances the vulnerability of the victim, the apparent authority of the influencer, the tactics employed, and the fairness of the result. The effects of financial abuse are particularly catastrophic for elders because elders have a limited ability to recover from economic loss. Not only are exploited elders more likely to require public assistance, but they are three times more likely to die as a result of the trauma of exploitation. This problem will only get worse as our population ages and life-expectancies increase. AB140 represents a critical opportunity to protect our elders from the devastating effects of exploitation by bringing the definition of undue influence into the 21st Century. I strongly urge you to pass AB140.

Sincerely,

Letters can be emailed to: Robert.MacLaughlin@asm.ca.gov or faxed to: (916) 319-3884 It would be very helpful if you would send this letter as soon as possible. Thanks again for your support of this important bill.