House approves 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 will soon be sent to the governor to be signed.

“Michigan courts should have the power to stop someone from taking advantage of our state’s most vulnerable residents — our seniors,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This measure was inspired by a real case here in Michigan. An elderly mid-Michigan woman was taken by her son to another state, where she was put on drugs that she did not need and deemed incompetent. A judge then appointed her son as her guardian, who proceeded to drain her bank accounts.”

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.

“Unfortunately, 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. “This woman had lived in Michigan for 85 years and had a home and family here — but the state let her down.

“It was unacceptable, and I look forward to seeing the governor stand up for our seniors by signing this bill — ensuring that Michigan judges have the power to protect Michigan residents.”

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 would allow Michigan judges to take jurisdiction in guardianship cases if certain criteria are met. The bill was approved by the Michigan House on Wednesday. The Senate will enroll the bill and send it to the governor.