A Legislature Update By Senator Kathleen Passidomo
at the Stopping Exploitation: Florida On The Forefront Conference
Senator Kathleen Passidomo presents laws in the State of Florida that protect seniors from being exploited and scammed at the Stop Exploitation conference in Gainesville, FL. Stopping financial scams is a priority for Florida.
She started the legislative ball rolling in 2012 (a Representative at the time) and continues to be an advocate for the elderly. She will be President of the Senate in 2023 and her biggest issue for Florida is elder abuse. On November 15, a one-day conference was held to gather present and future leaders and stakeholders to stop exploitation with a multi-disciplinary approach to the fight against financial exploitation through science, policy, and prosecution strategy. Leaders in science and law joined to share history, information, and strategies.
Sponsors included the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar, AFELA (Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys), Elder Options, Elder Care of Alachua County, and the North Central Florida Senior Advocacy Network.
What Florida Is Doing To Prevent Financial Scams
Number 1 priority is to protect Florida’s seniors with better legislation addressing the problems that have surfaced in recent years like financial scams, guardianship fails, and open records.
Here are some highlights from Senator Passidomo’s discussion:
We have tightened up guardianship laws to stop bad guardians without affecting good guardians. Special notes about elder exploitation: The problem with the elderly being scammed is they embarrassed and do not want to appear weak and placed in a nursing home. For this reason, they don’t want to prosecute.
Most abusers are family members who want to protect their inheritance.
HB 409. Gift of 10K from someone they’ve know for less than 10 years is suspect and can be considered exploitation. However, this doesn’t apply to family members who are often the abusers. We have not been able to get it included in legislation.
We need to limit open records (voter registration-it’s public record). Scammers can figure out social security # from the information provided. Although there are issues, we want to make it private so scammers don’t have access.
We will rewrite the guardianship bill this year with RPPTL Section of the Florida Bar.
What Can Legislators Do Better To Prevent Financial Scams And Protect Seniors?
Senator Passidomo asked the audience “what can legislators do better?”
Concern: Payday loans, high interest rates, and an inability to pay back.
Response: Florida has robust law monitoring compliance.
Concern: Open records vs private. Hypercharged issue because of 1st amendment concerns. Everything is public. Thieves steal info to scam/exploit.
Response: Need to think about in future because of Internet (open records law was created before Internet was big).
Concern: Need more Medicare dollars for community for home care.
Response: Florida has a 90B budget for 22M people. Only option for more Medicare dollars is to raise taxes; cannot do so without voters permission. Almost half of budget goes to healthcare, 43%. Next is education at 27%, then public safety, infrastructure, environment-everything else.
Kathleen C. Passidomo is a Republican member of the Florida Senate who has represented the 28th district, which includes Collier, Hendry, and part of Lee County in Southwest Florida, since 2016. She previously served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives, representing the Naples area from 2010 to 2016.
What Miller Elder Law Firm Can Do To Prevent Financial Scams?
Shannon Miller, founder of The Miller Elder Law Firm and Stop Financial Exploitation conference chair, is a Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney practicing in Gainesville, Florida. She is highly specialized in handling financial exploitation cases and recovering assets for its victims. We will take care of every step of the process for you until final resolution. You will not have to worry about a missed step, paperwork not filed, or lack of knowledge about the law--we do all of that for you!
Other practice areas include guardianship, wills and trusts, probate, estate planning, special needs planning, medicare planning and asset freeze litigation. Ms. Miller also serves as an expert for exploitation legislation impacting the state of Florida by protecting vulnerable adults.