Financial Elder Abuse

Among the many new laws that went into effect in California on January 1, 2012 was AB 2619, a provision aimed at helping victims of financial elder abuse collect restitution from their abusers.

Financial elder abuse includes the illegal taking, or concealment of money, property, or other assets of people over the age of 65. See  California Welfare and Intuitions Code Section 15610 et seq.  Even when victims are able to obtain a judgment, victims often have a difficult time collecting funds owed to them by their abusers. This is especially true when the abuser is a family member, caregiver, or other individual, rather than a company or other institution which might have more resources.

California’s Wage Garnishment Law authorizes collection of a judgment by ordering the debtor’s employer to withhold a portion of the debtor’s earnings to compensate the judgment creditor.  See California Code of Civil Procedure Section 706.010 et seq.   AB 2619 modifies the Wage Garnishment Law to give elder financial abuse victims priority over any other wage withholding order, except orders for child and spousal support and back taxes. Thus, the new law affords victims of financial elder abuse  improved opportunities to collect damages through wage withholding and increases their chances of recouping funds they might otherwise not recover.

AB 2619 was signed into law in July, but did not become effective until January 1, 2012.