State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Citing senior population, high court seeks ways to prevent abuse

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 21, 2013 9:44 PM

A new group created by the state Supreme Court will take a look at the situations in which older Pennsylvanians suffer neglect, theft, and general abuse. The 38-member Elder
Law Task Force will work toward figuring out what more the courts can do for the state's growing elderly population.

Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd will chair the panel. She said it'll consider how to better monitor those who file as the guardians of seniors.

"We need to make sure that we have a structure in place to monitor those guardianships, to make sure that reports are filed perhaps more often than maybe they're being filed now, and that something meaningful is done with those reports once they're filed," she said.

There's a reason this kind of study is best taken on by the judicial system. Todd said when a problem arises between older people and their legal guardians or financial advisers, the matters often end up in court.

"So it behooves us all to make sure that Pennsylvania courts - Pennsylvania judges, clerks of the orphan courts, et cetera - are aware of the problems and are employing best practices in how to deal with them," she said. Todd noted the court supervises the entire judicial system, and will be looking for best practices to apply to all of its courts.

The task force will consider whether it should speed up the review of cases involving older Pennsylvanians. There's a precedent for it - cases involving children already get fast-tracked.

The group may also make recommendations to the legislature for potential changes to state law.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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