AB 140 increases protection for elders financially exploited by undue influence (signed into law)

Update: On October 9, 2013, Governor Brown signed AB 140 into law.

The Consumer Federation of California strongly supports AB 140 (Dickinson), a bill that will increase protection for elders who are exploited by “undue influence.”

Elder financial abuse has reached epidemic proportions in California, as financial predators target and exploit vulnerable members of our community. While financial abuse can take many forms, elders and dependent adults are particularly vulnerable to the undue influence of others because of illness, isolation, lack of mobility, and dependence.

AB 140 will modernize the definition of undue influence – a definition that has not been revised since 1872 – for elder financial abuse and related probate matters. The new definition defines undue influence as excessive persuasion that causes an elder to act or refrain from acting and that results in inequity.

Since the 19th Century, the concept of undue influence has played an increasingly important legal role regarding the protection of elders and incapacitated adults. Modernizing this definition so that it is consistent with contemporary views of vulnerability, mental health, and fairness will bring greater clarity to the determination of when excessive persuasion had become exploitative.

The effects of financial abuse are particularly catastrophic for elders because elders have a limited ability to recover from economic loss. Not only are exploited elders more likely to require public assistance, but they are also three times more likely to die as a result of the trauma of exploitation. This problem will only get worse as our population ages and life expectancy increases.

AB 140 represents a critical opportunity to protect our elders from the devastating effects of exploitation by bringing the definition of undue influence into the 21st Century.

Supporters of AB 140 have included:

Consumer Federation of California
California Alliance for Retired Americans
California Police Chiefs Association
Alzheimer’s Association
California Commission on Aging
County Welfare Directors Association of California
California Senior Legislature
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Institute on Aging
Older Women’s League of California
California Association of Health Services at Home (CAHSAH)
Six individuals
Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at UC Irvine
Ohlone/East Bay Older Women’s League of California