In Florida, how is exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult defined?

By Florida law, exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult can occur when funds, assets or property are temporarily or permanently deprived from them or are used to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult.

This is another in a series of blog discussions of Florida's recently enacted changes to Chapter 825, Fla. Stat. which addresses exploitation of an elderly person or of a disabled adult. Exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult has now been defined as:

Obtaining or using, endeavoring to obtain or use, or conspiring with another to obtain or use an elderly person's or disabled adult's funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly person or disabled adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult, by a person who knows or reasonably should know that the elderly person or disabled adult lacks the capacity to consent. 

This definition is sufficiently broad that persons who stand in a position of trust or confidence or who have a business relationship with an elderly or disabled adult must be very cautious in using that person's funds, assets or property. To be safe, the easiest standard should be whether the funds, assets or property are being used for the elderly or disabled adult's care, quality of life or well-being. If not, then the person using them may be at risk of violating Chapter 825.

In many instances, the standard is clear. For example, if funds are used to pay for the elderly person's basic living needs such as food, housing, or medical care, their use would seem clearly within the allowable standard. A less clear example would be where an elderly person is living with a relative and the elderly persons' funds are being used to defray household expenses. 

When a person is dealing with an elderly person or disabled adult, if the contemplated use of funds, assets or property is uncertain or in question, it would be wise to seek legal advice from an elder law attorney before undertaking any action which might pose a risk.

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