Panel OKs Runestad’s financial exploitation prevention bill

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Jim Runestad’s legislation to help protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation is on its way to the full Senate after being approved by a Senate committee on Wednesday.

“There is nothing more important to me than protecting our most vulnerable residents,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Sadly, an all-too-common threat to vulnerable adults is financial exploitation. This crime often happens without the victim’s knowledge by someone they trusted or who was appointed to protect them. As a result, it often goes unreported and undetected until consequences surface.

“My bill is an attempt to empower certain financial advisors and brokers to protect Michigan’s most vulnerable and stop exploitation before it occurs.”

Senate Bill 315 would allow financial advisors and broker dealers to place a hold on disbursements from a specified adult’s account if they suspect financial exploitation is taking place or will take place. The bill would also establish specific procedures to be followed and limit the initial hold up to 15 days, which could be extended if warranted after further review of the facts.

Specified adults under the bill include people age 65 or older and adults age 18 or older who the advisor or dealer reasonably believes has a mental or physical impairment that makes them unable to protect their own interests.

According to an elder financial exploitation report by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the majority of incidents of elder financial exploitation go unreported to authorities. The same report said that some studies have found elder financial exploitation is emerging as the most prevalent form of elder abuse.

“While the goal is to stop exploitation, the legislation includes many provisions to balance the priority of protecting our vulnerable citizens and the need for them to have access to resources for food, housing and other services,” Runestad said.

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