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Conservatorships 1 way to protect assets of loved ones

On July 1, more stringent protections for Colorado's elderly residents will take effect, along with a package of reforms put in place as protection for the growing segment of the population that is aging.

By 2050, there are expected to be 93.7 million Americans over 65, nearly double the numbers in 2014, according to a census projection.

Cases of suspected exploitation or abuse witnessed by or reported to clergy, social workers or those in the health care field will now be required to be investigated. Local law enforcement and the District Attorney's office will become involved through the Adult Protective Services office in each county. Colorado had been one of three remaining states that didn't have those requirements in place for at-risk elders age 70 and older.

The state will be diverting funds to counties to reduce their caseloads to 25. The state also wants the county offices to separate their investigations from their case management. Adult Protective Services is also implementing a new computer system to assist them with deciding whether clients need advocates or county services.

One caseworker sees a problem in the sense of entitlement that adult children have regarding the possessions their parents have accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. "They feel entitled to take their money and their property. They feel it's owed to them," she said.

The only way one can gain official control over someone's financial affairs is through a conservatorship obtained through the civil courts. If you suspect that an elderly or mentally challenged relative is being financially exploited, a Colorado attorney can petition the court for a guardianship or conservatorship to protect them and their assets.

Source: CortezJournal.com, "Elderly-abuse laws take effect July 1" Mary Shinn, May. 19, 2014

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