Elder Justice

Overview

By 2030, one in four New Yorkers will be 60 years or older, according to the New York State Office of Aging. One result of this shift in demographics is that judges and other legal professionals will have an increased number of cases involving older adults.

To meet these changing needs, the New York State Unified Court System is promoting procedures and programs that address issues affecting older adults.

Issues involving older adults arise in all courts. Older residents at risk of eviction have cases in Housing Court (NYC Housing Court and Housing Court Outside NYC). Family Court NYC Family Court and Family Court Outside NYC) handle abuse cases in which adult children are living with elderly parents or relatives. Surrogate's Court (NYC Surrogate Courts and Surrogate Courts Outside NYC) make decisions regarding the estates of older persons who did not leave a will or whose will is being contested due to reduced mental capacity. Criminal Court (NYC Criminal Court, Nassau and Suffolk County, and Criminal Courts Outside NYC)handle a large number of cases involving victims of abuse - physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, passive neglect, and financial. Supreme Court (NYC Supreme Court, Civil & Criminal Terms and Outside NYC) handle divorce actions, guardianship proceedings for incapacitated persons, and other civil actions, including divorce and foreclosure, all of which may impact older adults.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is generally defined as a single or repeated act - or lack of appropriate actions - which causes harm, risk of harm, or distress to a person who is 60 years or older and occurs:

  • Within any relationship where trust is expected
  • When the stated act is directed toward an older person because of age or disability

Elder Abuse & Housing Court

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in conjunction with the Unified Court System's Office for Justice Initiatives have created a booklet, "Elder Abuse and Housing Court FAQ,which provides information about Guardian- Ad-Litem (GAL) Elder Abuse Specalists and how they can help in housing court.

Elder Justice Committee

The NYS Judicial Committee on Elder Justice is chaired by the Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan. It's membership includes leaders and professionals who deal with elder abuse and neglect. It is a standing committee of the courts, which reviews elder justice issues in the legal system.

Elder Financial Exploitation

One in 24 older adults in NYS is the victim of financial exploitation. To learn more, visit: "Understanding and Preventing Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Older Adults."

Contact Info

For further information regarding elder justice and the New York Courts, please contact the Office of Policy and Planning at opp@nycourts.gov