Illinois Law Regarding Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person or a Person With a Disability

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Illinois law protects persons over 60 years of age and persons with disabilities that impair their ability to manage their property and finances from knowing exploitation by persons held in positions of trust and confidence. The law defines exploitation as obtaining control or use of property, assets, or resources by means of deception or intimidation. It defines a person “in a position of trust and confidence” as a spouse, blood relative, financial planning or investment professional, paid or unpaid caregiver, or person that holds property with an elderly person or person with a disability.

If a financial exploitation occurs, numerous remedies are available. The exploited individual may be eligible to recover three times the amount of the value of the property lost, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. The court can also order that the exploiting person receive nothing or a reduced amount of property from the exploited individual. A prosecuting attorney may file a petition to freeze the assets of a person who has been charged with taking the property of an elderly person or person with a disability if the misappropriated property is valued at more than $5,000.00.

The financial exploitation must be proved only by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that exploitation occurred. Furthermore, if a caregiver to an elderly person or a person with a disability receives more than $20,000.00 worth of property, there is a presumption that the transfer is void.

Claims for financial exploitation can be quite complicated. For example, a person who contributes time and effort into assisting an elderly or disabled person may receive a gift by means of a Will. It can be difficult to prove that the person receiving the gift did so without unduly influencing the person giving the gift.

The Illinois Legislature has imposed certain statutes of limitations for bringing such actions. If you believe that a family member has been exploited or are a beneficiary who is being accused of exploitation, legal counsel should be consulted without delay. Hasselberg, Rock, Bell & Kuppler, LLP, has extensive experience in representing both beneficiaries in claims against persons who exploited an elderly person and in case in which false claims of exploitation have been made. The time for bringing claims in many circumstances can be very short. If there has been undue influence or a lack of capacity involved with a testamentary instrument, legal advice should be sought without delay.