“Sometimes people contact our firm asking, “What can I do, my loved one, my elderly father or my mother, for example, are being financially exploited and I think some funny business is going on, what can I do?”
I’m Kent Berk and I’m an attorney at the Scottsdale Arizona law firm, Berk Law Group, P.C., where we handle probate, estate trust, and other type of disputes in Arizona.
Fortunately for vulnerable or incapacitated adults in Arizona, there are some very helpful protections. Arizona has an adult protective services act for example, that provides severe penalties to anyone who financially exploits or takes advantage of a vulnerable adult. And basically what can happen is the vulnerable adult or someone acting on the vulnerable adult’s behalf can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator to, first of all, get them to stop taking the vulnerable adult’s assets and for damages, for double damages and for other relief to severely penalized someone who is found to have taken advantage of a vulnerable adult.
Now, as part of the equation, first, it needs to be decided or determine whether the adult is vulnerable. First of all, an adult under the act is anyone over the age of 18 in Arizona. And to be considered vulnerable, basically it’s a relatively low standard that the person has to have some sort of an incapacity whether it’s a medical, mental, even from drug abuse or alcoholism, or from other medication; whatever the case maybe. If the vulnerable adult doesn’t understand their financial circumstances or can’t take action to protect themselves, they are eligible for potential protection under the vulnerable adult statutes. And basically anyone acting over the vulnerable adult’s assets has to use the vulnerable adult’s assets solely for the benefit and protection of the vulnerable adult unless certain conditions have been met. There’s a dually executed power of appointment or power of attorney that allows the person to use the assets in a certain way.
Arizona also has an adult protective services department just like child protective services that you can call to report exploitation or any wrong doing involving a vulnerable adult. They will sometimes pursue an investigation and potentially place charges against someone who is taking advantage of vulnerable adult.
If you have any questions, you can contact through our website our just give us a call. Thank you.” – Kent Berk