Pending Legislation Champions Protections Against Elder Abuse
AB 381: Attorney’s Costs and Fees Awarded to Victims of Elder Financial Abuse
The bill awaits review by the Governor Jerry Brown. AB 381 bill would allow a court to award attorney’s costs and fees to seniors who were victims of elder financial abuse.
Currently, double the amount of damages may be awarded to conservatees, minors, trusts and decedent’s estates that have been the victim of misappropriation or theft, or of the bad faith misuse of a power of attorney. Damages can be defined as a financial measure of the extent of harm suffered by a victim as a result of the defendant’s actions.
In some cases, the costs of bringing a lawsuit and the incurred attorney’s fees exceed the recovery for damages. In these situations, the victim cannot afford to pursue their legal options. AB 381 would encourage victims to protect their legal interests and attorneys to take these elder abuse cases.
AB 477: Notaries Public Included as Mandated Reporters of Suspected Financial Elder Abuse
The bill is awaiting review by the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 477 seeks to include notaries public in the definition of mandated reporters of suspected financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult. If the notary public fails to report suspected financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult, he or she will be subject to civil penalties currently imposed on other mandated reporters of elder or dependent adult abuse. Failure to report financial abuse is subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00, and a willful failure to report commands a civil penalty of up to $5,000.00. A civil penalty can only be recovered in a civil action brought by the Attorney General, district attorney, or county counsel against the mandated reporter. Furthermore, the bill prohibits a notary public from performing notarial duties for an elder or dependent adult in certain circumstances.
Notaries public are in a unique position of ensuring the integrity of legal documents. Including notaries public as mandated reporters will prevent financial elder or dependent adult abuse.
SB 612: Victim of Elder Abuse With Documentation May Terminate Tenancy Early
The bill awaits review by the Governor Jerry Brown. SB 612 would allow a victim of elder or dependent adult abuse to terminate his or her tenancy as long as the victim/tenant has documentation from one of the following: a medical professional, health care provider, licensed mental health services provider, social worker, domestic violence counselor, or a sexual assault counselor. Furthermore, the bill would prohibit landlords from disclosing any information provided by a victim/tenant to a third party unless the victim/tenant gives written consent or disclosure is required by law or order of the court.
The bill would expand these protections to victims of human trafficking as well as broaden the documentation options for victims/tenants. SB 612 would also add confidentiality protections for victims/tenants who need to break their leases.