New laws will help protect finances of seniors, benefit their bottom line

Providence

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Gov. Dan McKee signed two bills into law Monday that are designed to help support Rhode Islanders over the age of 60.

The ceremonial bill signing took place at the East Providence Senior Center.

“I am proud to serve Rhode Island’s aging community in any way possible,” McKee said. “Ensuring that our most dear neighbors are not taken advantage of financially is a no-brainer and I thank the bill sponsors and advocates who make Rhode Island better for everyone, including folks like my mom, every day.”

One bill requires financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of elders. The other gives elders a big benefit for volunteering – property tax credits.

Any employee of a financial institution who suspects financial exploitation of an account holder who is over age 60, where a caregiver may be using an elder’s finances for personal gain without permission, is now bound by law to notify the institution itself, and the institution must notify the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging. The institution can also place a temporary hold on transactions involving the alleged victim.

Sen. Cynthia Coyne, one of the first bill’s sponsors, noted there are now more than 243,000 Rhode Islanders over the age of 60, and that number went up went 23% from 2016, according to the state’s Healthy Aging Data Report for 2020.

“The bills being signed are about more than just finances; they’re about dignity,” Coyne said. “No person should be taken advantage of by a caregiver they trust.”

The second bill lets municipalities establish a program where an elder can volunteer their services to public programs and each hour volunteering, at the rate of minimum wage, can earn them up to a $1,500 annual property tax credit.

Rep. Jason Knight, pne of the second bill’s sponsors, said the property tax credit will help reinforce communities by encouraging people to maintain connections and form new ones.

And McKee agrees.

“It’s a great way for seniors who are already volunteering to actually get compensated for that volunteering,” McKee said.

East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva, whose city was hosting the ceremony, said the volunteering tax credit would especially help seniors on fixed incomes.

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