Florida Statute Section 825.103(5)- Effective July 1, 2018
Written by: Ashley Roof, Esq.
On July 1, 2018 a new statute will be effective allowing for a quick method for protecting Vulnerable Adults, typically elders. A “Vulnerable Adult” is one with disabilities or cognitive deficits due to advanced age.
The new statute is geared towards preventing financial exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult by providing an avenue to file with the court a Petition for a Temporary Injunction. An injunction is a judicial order that restrains a person from continuing an action that invade the legal right of another person, or that compels a person to carry out a certain act.
Often elders find themselves to be victims of asset misappropriation by exploiters, who were able to obtain assets and disappear without time for sufficient judicial intervention to prevent further loss of assets. This new statute would allow for a quick and easily obtainable method to stop any further misappropriation of assets, by freezing the elder’s remaining assets and issuing an injunction to prevent the exploiter from continuing to take advantage of the elder.
Under the statute anyone of the following individuals can file the petition for injunction without the requirement of an attorney:
- A vulnerable adult in imminent danger of being exploited or their guardian;
- A person or organization acting on behalf of the vulnerable adult with the consent of that person or that person’s guardian; or
- A person who simultaneously files a petition for determination of incapacity and appointment of an emergency temporary guardian.
In order for the court to grant the injunction, there must be sufficient evidence provided by the person filing the petition to show that the Vulnerable Adult is in imminent danger of being exploited or has already been exploited. The injunction is temporary in nature and provides for a full hearing and due process for all parties within fifteen days of the entry of the initial temporary freeze of assets, or the court can extend the freeze if necessary.
The court retains the authority to address the needs of the Vulnerable Adults, including release of the frozen funds if necessary for the Vulnerable Adult’s necessary expenses during the time the assets are frozen. Along with the freeze, the court may also grant temporary exclusive use of their dwelling to the Vulnerable Adult, preventing, if necessary, the exploiter from residing with the Vulnerable Adult.
While the new statute does not require representation by an attorney, The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller is happy to advise those who are in need. Our firm is experienced in not only assisting those in need of pursuing those who have exploited elders, but also advising on the best course of action to ensure any financial exploitation is halted. If you believe yourself or some you know has been a victim of exploitation, please ensure you contact an experienced elder law attorney.