The Elder Abuse and Prosecution Act of 2017 was introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley and Amy Klobuchar and passed the full Senate on August 1, 2017. On October 3, 2017, the bill was passed in the House of Representatives and it was presented to President Trump on October 6, 2017. The President has yet to address the legislation, which establishes requirements for the Department of Justice (DOJ) with respect to investigating and prosecuting elder abuse crimes and enforcing elder abuse laws. Specifically, the legislation provides that the DOJ must designate Elder Justice Coordinators in federal judicial districts and at the DOJ; implement comprehensive training for FBI agents; and establish a working group to provide policy advice. The proposed legislation also provides for enhanced penalties for telemarketing and email marketing fraud directed at the elderly.
In addition, the pending legislation includes an amendment to Section 2042(c) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1397m-1[c]) requiring court-appointed guardian oversight. As noted by Senator Klobuchar, “while most court-appointed guardians and conservators are undoubtedly professional, caring, and law-abiding, there are some who use their position of power to exploit seniors. This bipartisan legislation would strengthen oversight and accountability for those entrusted with the well-being of seniors, and will protect those who are most vulnerable.”
Accordingly, the Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act makes state courts eligible for an already existing program designed to protect seniors. Under the program, state courts would be able to apply for funding to assess the handling of proceedings relating to guardians and conservators, and then make the necessary improvements to their practices. For example, the courts could conduct background checks on potential guardians and conservators, or implement an electronic filing system in order to better monitor and audit conservatorships and guardianships.