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. Elder attorneys often face questions about the use of funds held in joint accounts.
Exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult includes misappropriating, misusing, or transferring without authorization money belonging to an elderly person or disabled adult from an account in which the elderly person or disabled adult placed the funds, owned the funds, and was the sole contributor or payee of the funds before the misappropriation, misuse, or unauthorized transfer. This paragraph only applies to the following types of accounts:
1. Personal accounts;
2. Joint accounts created with the intent that only the elderly person or disabled adult enjoys all rights, interests, and claims to moneys deposited into such account; or
3. Convenience accounts.
If a family member or other trusted person has a account named jointly with an elderly person or a disabled adult and if the funds orginate from the elderly person or disabled adult, using the funds in that account could amount to exploitation if misappropriated or misused. The mere fact that the trusted person's name is jointly on the account does not guarantee protection--the bottom line is that the funds in that type of account must be used for the benefit of the elderly person or disabled adult.
Seeking advice on elder issues such as this can minimize the risk to anyone working with an elderly person or disabled adult.