AARP Commends Governor for Signing Consumer Protection Measure

HB 6477 Will Shield Consumers against Power of Attorney Abuses

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  (  Governor Quinn signed into law House Bill 6477 – a piece of legislation that will create urgently needed protections for thousands of individuals, particularly older adults, who fall victim each year to financial abuse or exploitation at the hands of individuals entrusted with making financial decisions as powers of attorney.

HB 6477 was sponsored by State Representative Emily McAsey (D-Crest Hill) and State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi. The bill garnered strong bipartisan support before passing the House unanimously on March 25, and passing the Senate unanimously on April 29th. AARP, on behalf of its 1.7 million Illinois members, commends Governor Quinn for signing the bill into law.

“Powers of attorney give older Americans the ability to choose a trusted person to act on their behalf. But in the wrong hands, they become a license to steal,” said AARP Illinois State Director, Bob Gallo. “We commend Representative McAsey and Senator Wilhelmi for their leadership on this matter and Governor Quinn for signing a law that will protect consumers across Illinois.”

“This is an important step in stopping ruthless and immoral people who have drained bank accounts and destroyed lives,” Rep. McAsey said.

“The new law will provide much needed updates to Illinois’ power of attorney statue,” Senator Wilhelmi said. “It will prevent individuals who hold this power from taking advantage of the individuals they represent. The additional recordkeeping provision will ensure accountability and deter financial exploitation.”

Power of attorney abuse is one of the most underreported types of financial abuse perpetrated against older individuals. Estimates from 2000 indicate that at least 5 million older Americans are victims of some sort of financial exploitation and abuse every year, including power of attorney abuse. Authorities estimate that, for every case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation or fraud that is reported to the police, about five more cases go unreported.

Among other elements, HB 6477 will strengthen current law in Illinois by providing measures to protect the senior granting the power of attorney, the agent receiving it, and the persons who are asked to rely on the agent’s authority; clarifies to the consumer the guidelines, duties and allowances of the power of attorney; creates liability for the agent in cases of abuse; and provides clearer guidelines for the agent to act in good faith and in the best interest of the principal.

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