New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Helping to balance the scales of justice for everyone since 1971.

House bill would help elder victims of financial abuse

Posted Mar 23, 2018

By Max Sullivan 

Seacoast Online

CONCORD -- A state House bill could expedite the process for elderly and disabled people to acquire relief from financial exploiters, its crafters using the state’s existing domestic violence protective order process as the blueprint.

The bill, HB 1807 put forth by state Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, would create a process for vulnerable adults, which can include disabled and certain elderly people, to submit a petition to a judge asking for immediate relief from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

A petition process exists for victims of domestic violence to acquire protective orders, but the writers of HB 1807 say people defined as vulnerable under New Hampshire law do not always fit that petition’s criteria.Creating such a pathway for elderly and disabled people would help “stop the bleeding” for victims seeking immediate relief from financial exploitation, said Cheryl Steinberg, senior Law Project director at New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Steinberg said she helped write the bill.

Steinberg, whose organization offers pro bono legal services to low-income Granite Staters, said it can take months in court to get relief from financial exploitation, as well as expensive legal fees.

Petitions for such cases can be complicated to write without legal assistance since a user-friendly form does not yet exist like it does for domestic violence victims, she said. The petition process that would come from HB 1807 would be easy to fill out for victims or their guardians, she said, and result in fast relief from a judge.

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NHLA's work for seniors is supported in part by the IOLTA program of the NH Bar Foundation.