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Elder Exploitation in Florida

Florida’s Elder Exploitation Law

On October 1, 2014, Florida Statute 825.103, entitled “Exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult” took effect.  This law makes it easier to prosecute people who prey on elders and the law increases penalties for crimes against elders.

How does the newly revised statute define exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult?

The revised statute focuses on financial exploitation of elderly and disabled adults. It targets people who use funds, assets, or property of elderly or disabled adults with the intent to deprive them of the use of those funds, assets or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult.

It also targets people who breach their fiduciary duties, misappropriate money, and fail to use an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s income and assets for the necessities required for that person’s support and maintenance.  Fiduciary duties can exist where a person, whether related or not to the elderly person, establishes a position of trust with an elderly person and then, using that position, misappropriates funds or property for themselves.

Who, specifically, can be held liable for elder exploitation under Florida Statute 825.103?

Florida Statute 825.103 applies to the following people:

  • Someone who stands in a position of trust with the elderly person or disabled adult
  • Someone who has a business relationship with the elderly person or disabled adult
  • Guardians
  • Trustees
  • Agents under a power of attorney
  • Caregivers

Are there any key presumptions written into the new law?

Yes.  There is now a permissive presumption of exploitation if there is a transfer of money or property over $10,000, by a person age 65 or older to a nonrelative whom the transferor knew for less than 2 years and for which the transferor did not receive the reasonably equivalent financial value in goods or services.

What are some of the increased penalties for elder exploitation?

If the funds, assets, or property involved in the exploitation are valued at $50,000 or more, the offender commits a felony of the first degree.

If the value is $10,000 or more, but less than $50,000, the offender commits a felony of the second degree.

If the value is less than $10,000, the offender commits a felony of the third degree.

What should I do if I know someone who has been exploited?

If you know a victim of elder exploitation, please contact an elder law attorney who can help you with the case and effectively involve law enforcement and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

If you need help with an elder exploitation case, please contact Andrew D. Wheeler at (850) 837-3662.  We are here to help and to protect those who need it the most in their time of need.

by

Andrew D. Wheeer is a family law, elder law and appellate attorney, and the founder of The Wheeler Firm, PA. Andrew only take cases in those practice areas in order to focus on those special areas of the law. With offices in Fort Walton Beach and Miramar Beach, Andrew represents clients throughout Okaloosa and Walton counties, and has represented more than 2,000 clients over the course of the past 15 years. Andrew attended the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, and graduated with a Juris Doctorate of law in 2002. While attending law school, Andrew was active in numerous legal writing opportunities, won awards for legal writing and was selected as a member of the Cumberland Law Review. Andrew was then accepted to the Cumberland Study Abroad Program and attended Durham University in Durham, England. Andrew also worked as a research assistant and intern for Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Over the next 15 years, Andrew represented thousands of clients in divorce, adoption, custody modification proceedings, child support contempt actions, probate litigation, and counseled clients on elder law rights, including long-term care planning and general estate planning. Andrew believes clients desire representation from attorneys who have a thorough understanding of their specific legal issues. Therefore, after beginning his career as a general practitioner, Andrew chose to focus his career on a few specific areas of law - those that affect the family. He continues to concentrate on those areas today. Andrew regularly interacts with the public by speaking to groups of people on family and elder law topics, including long-term care planning and techniques to avoid probate litigation. In 2012, Andrew began teaching seminars on adoption law through the National Business Institute, providing guidance to other attorneys on proper procedures to secure adoptions of children. Andrew is married to Regina Wheeler, with whom he has a son, and the family resides in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Andrew serves as President of the Destin Kiwanis Club and is active in the local chambers of commerce.

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