Along with other states, Missouri may soon expand its elder law protections by adopting a new law that makes specific types of elder abuse a crime. Lawmakers in the Missouri legislature have approved a bill that would include financial elder abuse as a crime punishable as a felony offense. The bill has received wide support from lawmakers of both parties, and is now waiting to be signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon.
Currently, Missouri law makes it a felony offense for anyone to knowingly or recklessly cause physical injury to a person aged 60 or above. The new bill would expand that to include financial abuse as well. Anyone convicted of this type of elder abuse faces between five and 15 years in prison.
The bill makes it a crime for anyone with authority or influence over an elderly person to unduly influence that person in an attempt to financially exploit his or her vulnerabilities. People with authority over an elderly person includes those with power of attorney, legally appointed guardians, as well as financial advisers and other trusted individuals.
In addition to the potential jail sentence involved, the law also allows judges to order restitution. Restitution is designed to repay either the elderly person or the extended care facility in which the person resides if the financial abuse has resulted in the extended care facility being unpaid.