Governor signs Jones bill cracking down on senior exploitation

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to protect Michigan seniors from being financially exploited by a family member was signed on Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“This is about standing up for our seniors and ensuring that Michigan judges have the power to protect all Michigan residents,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This new law was inspired by a real case here in Michigan. An elderly mid-Michigan woman was taken by her son to Nevada, where she was put on drugs that she did not need and deemed incompetent. After a judge there appointed her son as her guardian, he proceeded to gamble her savings away.”

Jones said that the woman’s family in Michigan succeeded in getting her back home and off the unnecessary medications. Once off the drugs, it was clear the woman did not need a guardian.

“However, when she asked a Michigan judge to declare her competent to be her own guardian, the judge said there was nothing he could do,” Jones said. “It was unacceptable that this woman, who had lived in Michigan for 85 years and had a home and family here, was let down by her state and the system of justice.

“With this new law, Michigan courts will have the power to act in similar cases and stop someone from taking advantage of our most vulnerable residents — our seniors.”

The Michigan judge said he had no jurisdiction over the woman’s case. An out-of-state judge had taken jurisdiction and, in the eyes of the court, she was a resident of that state.

Senate Bill 270, now Public Act 498 of 2016, allows Michigan judges to take jurisdiction in guardianship cases if certain criteria are met. The new law will take effect in 90 days.