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Nevada Proposes Court Reform to Protect Elderly from Predators

A Nevada Supreme Court panel took steps to propose a series of reforms that will protect vulnerable seniors from predators who claim to be their protectors. In addition, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced the formation of a task force to coordinate law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute these cases.

Both are welcome developments says The Las Vegas Review-Journal in a recent article, “Elder abuse.”

These actions are in part in response to a Review-Journal series revealing dysfunction in Clark County’s guardianship system, a system that was supposed to safeguard the assets of senior citizens whom courts have determined to be incapacitated. In some instances, those appointed to look after the financial assets of the infirm or incapacitated took advantage of them and raided their bank accounts, sold their property, and drained the resources of the person they were supposed to be helping.

The attorney general said that he will appoint a fraud investigator in his office to work with local law enforcement agencies on elder exploitation—which is intended to get police and prosecutors to take these cases more seriously.

The commission heard from District Court Judge Cynthia Dianne Steele, who said that about half of the 3,800 cases currently in the system were out of compliance with state law. Many lacked an initial inventory of assets, which makes it impossible to determine if there are predator issues, or they were missing annual reports, which are required by the state.

Judge Steele said that new software will flag files that lack the necessary paperwork. The judge also informed the panel that 85% of seniors in the Clark County guardianship program were not represented by an attorney during the process. Incapacitated seniors must have an attorney to discourage illegal activity and increase the odds that any suspicious actions be revealed.

Reference: Las Vegas Review-Journal (April 4, 2016) “Elder abuse”

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