Mandatory Reporting Laws in New York: Why Aren’t We Protecting Our Elderly Like We Protect Our Children?

By Jessica Coombs, Albany Government Law Review

       I.            Introduction

            All fifty states and the District of Columbia have Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies in place to investigate reports of elder abuse and provide vulnerable individuals and victims of abuse with protective services and treatment.[1]  APS was created by law to assist in the protection of impaired adults age eighteen and over.[2]  Nearly every county has its own APS unit which is maintained by that county’s Department of Social Services.[3]  In New York, APS units offer numerous services including investigation and assessment of the adult’s needs, advocacy and case management, legal interventions, counseling for the victim and their family, and emergency living arrangements.[4]

            The services provided by APS have the potential to help many victims; however, they are not implicated until APS has been notified of a potential case.[5]  The lack of a mandated reporting system in the state of New York hinders APS’s ability to help victims who may not be able to seek help themselves.  “Mandatory reporting statutes require individuals to report certain injuries or cases of abuse or neglect to law enforcement, social services, and/or a regulatory agency.”[6]  Every jurisdiction has different statutes regarding which types of abuse must be reported, and who is required to report the abuse.[7]  New York has no such mandatory reporting requirement.

Continue reading “Mandatory Reporting Laws in New York: Why Aren’t We Protecting Our Elderly Like We Protect Our Children?”

New York Power of Attorney: Will Recent Amendments Reduce the Risks of Elder Abuse and Fraud?

Amanda Cluff, Senior Editor, Albany Government Law Review Member

I. Background

One of the most prevalent concerns in both elder and healthcare law is the abuse of rights bestowed upon a durable power of attorney.[1] Numerous stories circulate daily regarding elderly persons who have been financially manipulated by individuals designated to this important role.  A power of attorney is defined as “a legal document through which a principal authorizes an agent [also known as an attorney in fact] to act on the principal’s behalf.”[2] This power usually terminates once the principal—the person who authorizes the power to an agent—becomes mentally incapacitated, or otherwise unable to exert decision-making abilities.[3]

However, when a durable power of attorney is created, the power of attorney continues to remain effective, even after such incapacity occurs.[4] This sort of power can be beneficial in several respects.  First, the durable power of attorney can replace an unfamiliar court-appointed guardian or conservator.[5] In addition, those who are given a durable power of attorney are able to make both personal and property decisions in the best interests of the principal, who lacks capacity to do so.[6] However, the danger of a durable power of attorney is also what makes it beneficial—the durable power of attorney is given virtually unconstrained and very broad authority to handle the principal’s financial affairs.[7] Consequently, this is a power that is difficult to monitor and, therefore, may be subject to various forms of abusive or fraudulent behavior by the agent.

Continue reading “New York Power of Attorney: Will Recent Amendments Reduce the Risks of Elder Abuse and Fraud?”