Despite some indications of increasing public awareness, officials from one Minnesota county say that the number of cases they see involving financial exploitation of vulnerable adults continues to rise. The observation of Olmsted county social services workers seems to gibe with the results of a national study published last year that reported nearly $3 billion in losses during 2010 as a result of the financial exploitation of people over age 60. That figure factored in losses to organized efforts, such as fraudulent home improvement and trust or insurance scams, but vulnerable adults also frequently fall prey to misuse of funds by those entrusted to provide for their care and well being.
Twin Cities readers may be interested to learn that two state lawmakers have recently proposed legislation that would impose more rigorous background check requirements for individuals seeking court appointments to serve as guardians or conservators. Minnesota's Attorney General supports the measure aimed at reducing the risk of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.
For families and friends of the elderly in Minnesota, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of what is going on in their lives. Even if people appear to have the best intentions, each week a new story details another case of financial exploitation or undue influence of vulnerable adults. As one recent story highlights, those who are granted guardianship of an elderly relative can sometimes take advantage of the situation for their own benefit, harming others in the process.
Minnesotans are known for being very polite and generous people, and not too quick to offend. These admirable traits are just a few things that make living in Minnesota special. However, that these good qualities are the norm may sometimes result in Twin Cities residents' not being particularly comfortable in discussing a loved one's end-of-life wishes. Indeed, many families throughout the country put off important decisions regarding wills, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships and other estate planning matters, and too often the end result is problems with probate.
A senator from Minnesota has proposed legislation that is meant to protect seniors, the disabled and other vulnerable people from neglect and abuse by their guardians. To address these issues, United States Senator Amy Klobuchar held a discussion recently in an assisted-living facility in Duluth. She thinks new legislation is necessary based on recent governmental reports, her experiences as a Hennepin County attorney, and the troubles of a Saint Paul woman whose mother was taken advantage of by her guardians.