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WA- Bill targeting those who exploit vulnerable adults approved

4-21-2009 Washington:

Legislation may soon go to governor for her signature

A bill that would prevent those who exploit elderly or otherwise vulnerable persons from inheriting money or property from their victims has passed both the House and Senate and may soon be on its way to the governor's desk.

House Bill 1103, sponsored by Rep. Jim Moeller, is the latest in a series of bills the Vancouver Democrat has sponsored in recent years to protect vulnerable adults from exploitation. Moeller has worked closely with the Clark County Vulnerable Adults Task Force to develop the legislation.

"As we age, we become more dependent upon people close to us for taking care of our basic necessities," Moeller said in a statement. "Yet some of the people closest to us, sometimes even our own children, take advantage of the situation."

Nothing in existing state law prevents a person who is found guilty of committing financial exploitation from inheriting property from the victim if the perpetrator is named in the victim's will.

Vancouver attorney Jessica Dimitrov said the new law will have significant impacts.

She is a partner in Dimitrov & Senescu, a law firm that represents exploited and vulnerable adults and works to change state law.

"We are seeing an increase in financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, and given the current economic situation, we can expect it to get much worse before it ever stops happening," she said in an e-mail. "But this law seeks to serve as a very severe and tough deterrent to this type of activity."

Moeller said he expects the House to concur with an amendment to the bill added by the Senate and then send the bill to the governor for her signature. ..Source.. by KATHIE DURBIN, COLUMBIAN STAFF WRITER

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