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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Stiff penalties for abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adult

Twin Cities residents do their best to take care of loved ones both physically and financially. Their efforts make a recent case of abuse and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult stand in stark contrast.

The case occurred in Arizona, where a woman pleaded guilty to abusing and financially exploiting a vulnerable adult, as well as abusing one of her own children. The charges stemmed from the woman's efforts, along with her boyfriend, to provide the vulnerable adult with only limited food and liquid. The vulnerable adult was also rarely given a bath or tended to in her other needs. Moreover, the elderly woman had not seen a doctor in over a year until she was hospitalized with deep infected bed sores.

In addition to the physical abuse, the woman and her boyfriend had stolen from the vulnerable adult's bank accounts and credit cards. The elderly woman later died, although the cause of death remained unclear. Due to the charges of vulnerable adult abuse and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, the woman faced up to 13.75 years in prison.

Typically, while physical abuse may accompany financial exploitation, most exploitation cases involve a person's finances. In such cases, assets of the vulnerable adult may be stolen outright or through more covert means, such as when a person in a position of trust takes financial advantage of the vulnerable adult.

In any event, Minnesota residents who are concerned for their family members have legal recourse available. Indeed, the state recently passed a new law that makes intentionally depriving a vulnerable adult a felony charge with up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Source: Arizona Daily Star, "Tucson woman pleads guilty to bedridden client's abuse, theft," Kim Smith, August 1, 2012

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