Elder abuse bills clear both General Assembly houses

Mike Still • Feb 18, 2020 at 8:56 AM

RICHMOND — Southwest Virginia legislators are optimistic about General Assembly passage of corresponding bills to protect elderly residents’ finances.

Senate Bill 261, which passed to the House of Delegates after legislative crossover on Wednesday, and House Bill 1166 will tighten reporting requirements for people appointed by courts to manage senior citizens’ financial affairs.

Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said the bills, sponsored by 38th District state Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Lebanon, and state Delegate Will Wampler, R-Abingdon, will make it a requirement for those court-appointed guardians or conservators of minors, senior citizens and incapacitated adults to sign under oath that already-required regular reports to court are true.

The bills, which amend Virginia Code section 64.2, would make it a civil penalty to file a false statement in such cases, and violators face a $500 fine.

The Senate version has already passed the House Courts of Justice Committee before it heads to the House floor. The House version has been reported to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for review before a Senate vote.

Slemp said the bills stem from efforts by the Criminal Justice Conference of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association to close state law loopholes to protect vulnerable adults.

“This bill is common sense, and it offers an important revision to current law,” Chafin said. “This change will close another loophole in existing law to protect vulnerable adults across Virginia.”

“Not only will this law protect people from exploitation, but it also represents what Southwest Virginia can do for the state when we work together to solve issues such as this,” Wampler said.

“I am so thankful for the leadership of Delegate Wampler and Sen. Chafin on this important issue,” Slemp said. “Our committee has worked hard over the past few years to close loopholes in Virginia law that perpetrators use to abuse vulnerable adults and senior citizens.”

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