• Partnerships & Federal Agency Interventions
  • Addressing Associated Legal Issues
  • Criminal Prosecution & Restitution
  • Legal Remedies for Victims
  • Litigation Skills

Litigation & Non-Litigation Remedies

  • Overview & Case Studies

    Elder abuse is often categorized as a crime, requiring responses from law enforcement, prosecutors, and rehabilitative services. However, there are distinct remedies that civil legal aid attorneys can also deploy in situations where an older adult may not want to seek criminal prosecution. The procedures for pursuing a civil remedy in these cases often crossover between probate processes and civil actions, and may involve a variety of legal theories.

    Resources


  • State Elder Abuse Statutes

    There are several federal acts that address elder abuse and authorize many of the federal programs in place to address abuse. These include the Older Americans Act and the Elder Justice Act. However, state statutes provide much of the law that will be utilized by civil legal aid attorneys in the course of providing protection and redress for their clients. The location and content of elder abuse related statues vary by state. Some states have criminal or civil statutes that directly address elder abuse.
     
    The statutory areas to review include: adult protective services laws, criminal codes, probate and trusts and estates codes, family law, and civil remedies. The resources in this section provide information on statutes by state and new policies by state.

    Resources


  • Protection: POAs & Revocation

    In cases where the perpetrator is the named agent in a Power of Attorney (POA) document, it may be necessary to revoke the POA to prevent further abuse. Sample revocation forms or language by state may be available on Law Help Interactive or on local courts’ websites. The revocation and any new POA documents will need to be sent to the banks and other institutions that may have a copy of the previous POA document. A new POA with a suitable potential agent can be considered if the older adult still needs assistance with managing their finances.

    Resources


  • Recovering Funds: Unauthorized Credit Card Charges & Accounts

    Unpaid bills or the unauthorized use of credit cards or accounts may leave victims with credit card bills that they cannot pay. Working with the fraud department of the credit or banking institution may yield results and the financial institutions should be contacted as soon as possible. Many will have defined windows of time in which the fraud must be reported.
     
    There may be defenses that can be raised in any consumer debt lawsuits, and it can be helpful to evaluate whether the client is “collection-proof,” meaning their income and/or homestead, for example, is beyond the reach of creditors. If judgments have already been entered, attorneys can determine whether the judgement can be vacated or if the case can be re-opened.

    Resources


  • Recovering Funds: Non-Litigation Strategies

    If the perpetrator has access to the victim’s bank account, checks, or debit card, steps can be taken to close or freeze the account to prevent any further withdrawals. If a new account is opened, arrangements should be made to change the account information on direct deposits for Social Security, pensions, and other items.
     
    If the perpetrator is the representative payee for the victim’s Social Security funds, steps can be taken to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) and set up a new representative payee (usually at the local field office). In some circumstances, restitution or repayment from SSA may be available. Similarly, if the victim receives Veteran’s Benefits and the perpetrator is the fiduciary, the Veteran’s Administration can be notified.
     
    Crime victim compensation is available to victims of crime to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of a crime. Items that could be covered include medical expenses, lost wages or support, and mental health counseling. Each state’s process varies.
     
    The resources in this section provide guidance for pursuing these options.
     

    Resources


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