Delaware Elder Fraud Statutes
Recognizing the need to protect the elderly, Delaware put a criminal statute covering elder abuse into effect in 1986. This statute allows for the prosecution of an individual who emotionally or psychologically abuses an older person without evidence of bodily harm.
Years later, this same statute was used as a model for the 1995 White House Conference on Aging. At the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures, the financial exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable adults was addressed by thirty-three states including Delaware, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In 2017, the Delaware General Assembly passed House Concurrent Resolution 36, recognizing “Delaware Elder Abuse Awareness Day,” which encourages all Delaware residents to learn about how to protect and nurture the state’s elderly citizens.
The Delaware Attorney General outlines various forms of elder abuse comes, including:
The use of physical force, restraints, or drugs to inflict pain, injury, or impairment. This also includes non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, including if the senior is not capable of consenting.
General signs can include unexplained bruising, cuts, fractures, burns, unexpected decline in health, effects of improper medication, or a caregiver refusing to allow the senior visitors; a victim is fearful or has sudden behavior changes.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Causing mental pain or distress through verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, or other actions. Forced isolation is also considered abuse.
General signs can include an elderly individual being agitated, withdrawn, non-communicative or non-responsive, or unusual behavior often coupled with dementia, like sucking, biting and rocking.
Failing to provide basic life necessities to a senior for whom someone is physically and financially responsible.
General signs can include dehydration, malnutrition, poor personal hygiene, inadequate clothing, untreated health problems, unsafe living conditions such as lack of heat or no running water, or unclean living conditions that include insects, dirt, or soiled bedding.
Illegally or improperly using a senior’s funds, property, or assets.
General signs can include sudden inability to pay bills, unexplained withdrawals from accounts, unusual interest by a family member in a senior’s assets, a change in a will, or a disparity between assets and living conditions.
Delaware statutes specifically define “financial exploitation” as the following (§ 3902):
- (11) ”Financial exploitation” means the illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for any person’s or entity’s profit or advantage other than for the elder person or the vulnerable adult’s profit or advantage. “Financial exploitation” includes, but is not limited to:
- a. The use of deception, intimidation, or undue influence by a person or entity in a position of trust and confidence with an elderly person or a vulnerable adult to obtain or use the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the elderly person or the vulnerable adult;
- b. The breach of a fiduciary duty, including, but not limited to, the misuse of a power of attorney, trust, or a guardianship appointment, that results in the unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the elderly person or the vulnerable adult; and
- c. Obtaining or using an elderly person or a vulnerable adult’s property, income, resources, or trust funds without lawful authority, by a person or entity who knows or clearly should know that the elderly person or the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent to the release or use of his or her property, income, resources, or trust funds.
Delaware clearly stands strong in leading the movement against elder abuse and fraud, as its early adoption of criminal statutes set an example for other states to follow. The elder financial fraud attorneys at the Silver Law Group advocate for victims of fraud and have helped many people recover lost money through litigation or arbitration. We may be able to do the same for you. Call us at 1-800-975-4345 or send us a message through our online form for an evaluation of your situation.