Elderly to benefit from new legislation | NevadaAppeal.com

Elderly to benefit from new legislation

RACHELLE GINES
Associated Press Writer

Advocates for elderly Nevadans had some successes with proposals considered by the 2009 Legislature, but saw others shelved by lawmakers or vetoed by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Among those that did make it into law was SB314, which erases limited power-of-attorney laws and replaces them with a much broader act proposed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The power-of-attorney measure is aimed at protecting Nevada seniors from abuses by caregivers and, in some cases, their own children.

Lora Myles of the RSVP CARE Law Program, which assists seniors, called the passage and approval of the measure a major accomplishment.

“Before SB314, Nevada was rated as one of the worst states in the union as far power of attorney legislation, Myles said. “Now we have precise, wonderful protections for seniors and anyone who executes a power of attorney.”

Key provisions of the uniform law include a clear statement of duties for an elderly person’s representative, and stringent standards for selling property or altering an estate plan.

SB313, another approved bill, revises Nevada’s laws on guardianships, in line with suggestions from the uniform law commission, the National Guardianship Association and Nevada Guardianship Association.

Myles said the measure addresses interstate jurisdiction over guardianships, and referred to it as “the granny kidnapping law” because it applies in cases such as seniors being taken across state borders.

Under the measure, guardianship jurisdiction exists where the ward – the person protected by the guardianship – originally resides, or where most of the ward’s assets are, Myles said. She added that the law helps to prevent financial exploitation of seniors.

Gibbons’ veto of two bills that affect seniors in some ways interferes with the ability to protect their financial resources, an attorney who represents senior citizens said.

Ernie Nielsen of the Washoe County Senior Law Project said he disagreed with Gibbons’ veto of AB491. The measure would have dealt with automatic garnishment of federally protected income such as social security. The Assembly voted to override Gibbons veto, but the Senate adjourned without taking an override vote.

Nielsen also took issue with Gibbons’ veto of AB22, which would have added language protecting seniors or others with disabilities from being taken advantage of in business or commercial settings. The measure deals with civil and criminal penalties for deceptive trade practices.

“Seniors are poorer then everyone else and they have less money then everyone else. Those two vetoed bills were designed to protect seniors and maintain their economic independence but now the veto of those bills makes it more difficult to do that,” Nielsen said.

Measures regarding seniors that failed to pass muster with lawmakers include SB290, a plan that would have allowed for the installation of surveillance devices in rooms at patient care facilities; and AB4 that would have created a ‘silver alert’ system that would help locate missing seniors.

Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, an advocate for seniors, said she’s pleased that Gibbons signed AB9, which creates an interim statutory committee on seniors, veterans and adults with special needs. “It will really pull stuff together to makes sure issues get to the right committee when the Legislature convenes” in 2011, she said.

McClain also is glad that Gibbons signed AB461, a bill she sponsored which gives the attorney general’s office the ability to create a multidisciplinary team involving agencies such as law enforcement and social services agencies to investigate and prosecute elder abuse cases.

Already with an eye toward the 2011 session, McClain said she wants to take up the issue of a “silver alert” system again and examine how seniors fit into patterns of violence in families.

“Next session, I want to look at the issue of family violence. There is child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse,” McClain said. “I would lay odds if you have one of those situations in any family you probably have another.”