By Erica Young
WV Press Capitol Reporter
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It didn’t take the West Virginia House of Delegate’s House Committee on Senior, Children, and Family Issues long to move on bills strengthening the laws again financial exploitation.
At its meeting on Jan. 24, the committee passed House Bills 2618 and 2614 after only 30 minutes of discussion. Both billed were passed to the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 2618 would include undue influence as a factor in the definition of financial exploitation of an incapacitated person, elderly person or protected person.
HB 2614 would provide protective orders for victims of financial exploitation. It defines terms and sets out procedure for filing petitions notice and hearings and appeals. The bill provides for assessing penalties and establishing limitations of time.
The meeting began with discussion on HB 2618, which passing quickly, and the topic then shifted to HB 2614,
Joyce Yedlosky, with the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, spoke to the House on the bill.
Yedlosky spoke on the current protective order proceedings regarding domestic violence (there is currently not one in place for financial exploitation). She explained the petitioner is not ordered to have no contact with the respondent, but the respondent may not communicate with the petitioner.
She went into detail about the way court proceedings work as well, explaining the potential bill would be more similar to a “personal safety order” which for “non-family household members who are victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and stalking” and if a person were to file an order, a magistrate would have to determine that financial exploitation truly did occur, then “prohibit that person from having their hands on the money” until a hearing can be held.
Next to speak was financial exploitation attorney Jennifer Taylor. When asked by Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton, D-Kanawha, how a power of attorney would be affected, Taylor said if the exploiter is the power of attorney, then the person would be required to stop being power of attorney, return the assets, and the petitioner would be given a chance to freeze all assets.