Gainesville elder law attorney Shannon Miller is making headlines as she and other lawyers across Florida work to develop a bill that is the first of its kind.
House Bill 409 proposes to create a “presumption of exploitation” to help prosecute individuals who take advantage of elderly or disabled adults.
Currently, it is extremely difficult to prove elderly exploitation. “Before this year, we had no prosecutions in Alachua County on elder exploitation cases. You have to prove deception and intimidation,” Miller told The Gainesville Sun in an article on February 22.
The new bill, however, will make it much easier to prosecute such cases. The presumption of exploitation would apply when someone is not a family member, has known the victim for less than two years, and a transfer of assets has occurred.
No other state has such a presumption in place, making House Bill 409 the first of its kind. “This legislation that is pending is literally groundbreaking,” Miller said.
Shannon Miller holds elderly law close to her heart. In an interview with GTN News, she recalls an instance where a 94 year old woman was taken advantage of by her minister.
“That case really struck a nerve in me because this lady had her whole life-savings in [her bank account]… and after that she had nothing.”
The new bill will allow prosecutors to help protect elderly and disabled adults who have joint bank accounts for convenience. Miller and fellow attorneys will be able to prosecute a joint account holder who takes money out for their own use.
Miller is working hard with fellow elder law attorneys to secure the bill’s promising future. The bill has support from Gainesville State Attorney Bill Cervone and legislative committee approval.
Miller has just one request.
“Take care of seniors and people who are vulnerable.”