It’s unfortunate that some people take advantage of the elderly, but it happens. And Texas has
decided that they want to make the laws surrounding elder financial abuse in the state stricter.
In September of 2021, the Texas Legislature passed a law in response to the increasing financial
abuse of the elderly in the state. It criminalizes these acts. This is meant to combat the estimated
$37 billion that the elderly in the United States lose to financial scams each year.
Here is what you need to know about this new law, including who it protects and what actions
constitute financial abuse of the elderly.
Who Is Considered an Elder in Texas?
Under the Texas laws, an elder is someone over the age of 65. Nationally, and in certain other
states, the age to be considered an elder is 60.
What Is Elder Financial Abuse in Texas?
It is illegal in Texas to financially exploit the elderly, but what types of actions constitute
Exploitation is when someone illegally uses an elderly person or their resources for personal or
monetary gain, profit, or benefit.
What types of actions constitute elder abuse in the state?
While elder financial abuse can happen in a variety of situations that involve different types of
assets and property, there are certain commonalities of financial abuse crimes that occur. Often,
it’s a person who has been placed in a position of trust or who has a personal relationship with
the elderly person who commits the crime.
The people who most commonly commit this crime include family members, health care
providers, and caregivers, but it can also extend to:
● Church officials
● Bank employees
● Nursing home employee
They may take actions such as siphoning money from a bank account or taking property from the
home of the elderly person without their consent.
It can also involve formal situations where someone who has legal authority over the elderly
individual takes control of their finances without their permission.
The law in Texas also defines the financial exploitation of elderly individuals.
Under the law, this occurs when someone wrongfully takes, uses, obtains, retains, or appropriates
money or other property of a person who has a relationship of trust with them. It often includes
acts of manipulation, undue influence, threats, misrepresentations, or intimidation.
To be found guilty of this, these elements must exist:
● There is a breach of the fiduciary relationship, including the misuse of power that
resulted in the unauthorized sale, appropriation, or transfer of property
● The personal assets were taken but not authorized
● There was misuse, misappropriation, or transfer of the victim’s money from a checking
account that was either personal or joint
● The person who committed the crimes knew or intentionally failed to use the assets of the
elderly individual for their support
What Penalties Can Be Faced?
If you are convicted of the crime of elder financial abuse, then it is often considered a Class B
misdemeanor, but it can be a charged up to a first-degree felony depending upon the
circumstances of the particular case.
A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and fines to be determined by
the judge. A first-degree felony can land a person in prison for a minimum of five years.