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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Legislative Change Helps Protect Vulnerable Adults

Changes recently adopted by the Florida Legislature and recently approved by the governor will enhance protection for seniors and other adults considered vulnerable by state standards.

The most significant change to the Adult Protective Services Act, originally adopted in 1977, focuses on financial exploitation, as well as abuse and neglect. It creates the ability to more easily petition for temporary injunctions blocking any exploitation attempts. Additionally, it makes it easier for the court to grant relief on final injunctions for a person being financially exploited.

Florida law defines a vulnerable person as anyone 18 years or older who struggles with caring for themselves because of mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical, developmental disability or dysfunction, brain damage or the infirmities of aging. That definition means the protected group under this law would include any adult with special needs as well as seniors.

This is a critical change – especially for seniors. Florida has more than 5.2 million residents 60 or older and the most residents 65 or older of any state in the country. A growing number of them live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and family care homes, where they are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of exploitation, abuse and neglect according to the analysis provided with the legislation.

It is hoped that with these new legal steps in the law, the number of abuse, neglect and exploitation cases can be reduced.



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