KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill on Wednesday aimed at protecting seniors and persons with disabilities from financial exploitation.
The new law is intended to strengthen the state’s law preventing financial or physical abuse of seniors, the governor’s office said in a press release. The law expands the definition of financial exploitation of seniors and the disabled to include “undue influence,” and gives local authorities more power to prosecute exploiters – including those with power of attorney or legal guardianship.
“As a state, we have an obligation to protect our seniors,” said Gov. Nixon in a statement. “In the past, it has been difficult for prosecutors to file charges on these types of cases if the person committing the crime had legal status as a guardian or power of attorney.”
“Financial exploitation of older Missourians is wrong; it is illegal; and the state will use the full force of the law to go after those who exploit vulnerable Missourians,” said Nixon.
According to state officials, one in every five calls to the state’s Elder Abuse Hotline is to report alleged financial exploitation.
The new law goes into effect on August 28.