On September 28, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 1140, the most far-reaching expansion of elder financial abuse laws since they were first enacted more than 20 years ago. The laws, which will take effect on January 1, 2009, increase protection for elders who are exploited through the use of undue influence, who are treated unfairly by those in whom they have placed confidence, or who have been taken advantage of because of their weakness, ill health, or diminished mental capacity. Most significantly, the new law places a duty on all persons who deal with elders to treat them fairly. If a person takes an elder’s property when they know or should know that to do so would be harmful to the elder, liability for damages may result. The new law also extends the time to bring a lawsuit to four years from the date the abuse is discovered or should reasonably have been discovered.
SB 1140 was sponsored by CANHR and California AARP