Jones cracking down on senior exploitation

LANSING—Sen. Rick Jones introduced legislation on Wednesday to protect Michigan seniors from being financially exploited by a family member.

“This is about giving Michigan courts the power to step in and stop someone from taking advantage of our most vulnerable residents – our seniors,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “In my district, an elderly woman was taken by her son to another state, where she was put on drugs 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 didn’t need a guardian. However, when she asked a Michigan judge to declare her competent to be her own guardian, she was told there was nothing the judge could do.

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.

“This was a woman who had lived in Michigan for 85 years, had a home and family here and was let down by her own state,” Jones said. “That’s unacceptable, and my bill seeks to ensure that Michigan judges have the power to protect Michigan seniors from exploitation.”

Senate Bill 270 would allow Michigan judges to take jurisdiction in guardianship cases if certain criteria are met. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Jones.