New Iowa Law Helps Seniors Protect Against Financial Abuse
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
DES MOINES, Iowa - As Iowa's population continues to age, also growing is the number of elders being exploited financially, although new protections are in place aim to reverse that trend. The Iowa Uniform Power of Attorney Act officially took effect this summer and today marks the start of a statewide awareness campaign.
Attorney and law professor Josephine Gittler, College of Law, University of Iowa, says the Act adds new protections against those who abuse Power of Attorney authority, and makes it easier for Iowans to set up a POA.
"The Act allows a person to name someone to act on his or her behalf with respect to financial matters in the event that as they age they become incapacitated, or as a result of Alzheimer's or some other dementia," says Gittler.
Financial exploitation of seniors is the most common type of elder abuse, with about one of six adults over age 65 having been preyed on; research indicates women are twice as likely as men to fall victim.
Gittler notes, not having decisions on record about who will be in charge if a person becomes incapacitated likely means the courts would have to make the appointment.
"If one doesn't have a Power of Attorney, then the only alternative may be establishing a court-ordered conservatorship," says Gittler. "That takes time, and involves expense and the court rather than the incapacitated person decides who gets to make decisions."
More information on the new Uniform Power of Attorney Act is available through the AARP of Iowa and the University of Iowa College of Law National Health Law and Policy Resource Center.
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