Blog : Family Law

Protecting the Vulnerable Adult

Recent articles in area newspapers advise us that financial exploitation of vulnerable adults is on the rise, and billboards on the highways advise us to protect the vulnerable adult. Michigan’s current economic conditions may push even the most “trustworthy” person to commit crimes against unsuspecting vulnerable adults. You should be aware of those certain adults that are vulnerable and how you may help.

A vulnerable adult is a person age 18 or over who is in need of protection because of advanced age, physical disability or mental illness. The vulnerable adult is unable to  provide for their own personal care or to manage their property.

Perhaps you are this vulnerable adult and you are afraid to ask for help. Perhaps your parent is a vulnerable adult and you are afraid to offer your assistance for fear of taking away their independence.

Society understands that everyone wants to maintain their independence. And we also understand that people are reluctant to interfere if they just suspect that someone may need assistance. But if you have reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult is in danger you should get involved.

If you have reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult is in danger you may contact the police or the Family Independence Agency in your community. A verbal report to the Family Independence Agency is sufficient to begin an investigation of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation.

There also are steps a person can take before they become a vulnerable adult. A person can sign a Durable Power of Attorney while still able to make their own decisions. The Durable Power of Attorney is a document that gives another person the power to act for you to assist with your finances and daily living activities. It provides for management of your property when you are not able to make decisions on your own. Parmenter O’Toole can help you with the preparation and signing of this document.

* Nancy Ann Hornacek is an associate attorney with Parmenter O’Toole in Muskegon, Michigan.  Parmenter O’Toole is a full-service business and real estate law firm.  The comments in this article are not intended to be a substitute for legal guidance or advice for a specific situation.  You should obtain informed legal counsel to assist in your decisions relating to any issues which may be raised in this article.  For additional information regarding the above topic, or any other legal issues you may have, Ms. Hornacek can be reached at (231) 722-1621 or