In a funny and scary segment, John Oliver recently highlighted problems with the guardianship system on his HBO show, Last We...Read more
Problems with Guardianship Abuse Leading to Calls for Reform
- May 13th, 2016
A growing problem with adult guardianship abuse is giving rise to calls for reform of the system. Vulnerable elderly can get caught in the guardianship system, being harmed and exploited by the very process that is supposed to protect them.
A guardian is someone appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual ("ward"). The guardianship process usually starts when a family member or social worker notifies the court that someone can't take care of him- or herself. The court often appoints a family member as guardian. However, if the family can't agree on a guardian or there is no family to act as guardian, the court may appoint a public guardian. Public guardians are supposedly neutral individuals who are hired to act in the ward's best interest.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Ron M. Landsman, P.A.
Ron M. Landsman has been practicing elder law since 1983, before it was known as elder law, originally with Landsman and Laster, Washington, D.C., then Landsman, Eakes and Laster, also in Arlington, VA, and since 1990 in his own practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has been among the most active members of the...
The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm PC
Bill founded The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. in 1994. Bill limits his practice to the areas of estate planning and administration, incapacity planning, Medicaid, asset protection planning, and elder law. He is one of (15) fifteen attorneys practicing in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, ce...
Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Mindy Felinton concentrates in the areas of Medicaid planning, Veterans' Benefits, asset protection, nursing home planning, elder law, wills, estate planning, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, probate administration and trust administration and began her legal career 30 years ago as an Assistant State Attorney...
Unfortunately, in many states, the lack of court oversight combined with poorly trained guardians has led to reports of abuse. Once the court appoints a guardian, that guardian has complete control over the ward's property and finances. Guardians can block family visits, determine where the ward will live, and sell property. In addition, guardians charge fees for their services that are payable from the elderly person’s bank account, which can cause corruption. When a senior gets caught up in the guardianship system, it can be very difficult to get out. There are many stories about seniors who are confused and overwhelmed after losing control of their lives to a guardian they don't know.
In response to complaints by advocacy groups about guardianship abuse, Florida passed a law in March 2016 instituting changes to its public guardian system. The law creates an Office of Public and Professional Guardians that is required to create standard practices and rules for public guardians. The office also has enforcement power to revoke a guardianship.
If you think a loved one needs a guardian, consult with your attorney to determine the best steps. There may be less restrictive alternatives to guardianship.
In addition, if your family can't agree on the best course of action for your elderly loved one, before fighting over guardianship in court, consider elder law mediation.
For more information about guardianships, go here: http://www.elderlawanswers.com/guardianship/conservatorship.
Last Modified: 05/13/2016