Corrupt guardians can cause a lot of damage.
Guardianships are not meant to be a bad thing.
To the contrary, they are intended to help.
If you were to become incapacitated with no one to make decisions for you, a guardian would be appointed to look out for your interests.
Some guardians care more about themselves than those under their care.
According to a recent Reuters article titled “With U.S. elder abuse in spotlight, a look at guardians,” officials in many states have known about specific instances of abuse for years.
In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found 45 states plus DC to have hundreds of allegations against guardians from 1990 and 2010.
After reviewing 20 of these cases, it was found that guardians exploited their power over 158 incapacitated victims (aka "wards") to take $5.4 million.
What can be done?
Many experts see the dire need for reform when it comes to guardianship appointments and accountability.
Guardianship organizations and individuals should undergo enhanced scrutiny because of the position of authority and trust they hold over many vulnerable people.
When guardians abuse their authority, they could take advantage of their wards.
How does a court decide if someone needs a guardian?
First, the individual must be incapacitated.
Second, the court must see a need for a guardian.
What does this second criterion mean?
A guardian will be appointed by the court if the individual had not already appointed someone.
How can you avoid the risk of a court-appointed guardian?
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create powers of attorney to appoint your own trusted individuals to manage your [personal, health care, and financial decisions should you become incapacitated.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Reuters (October 20, 2017) “With U.S. elder abuse in spotlight, a look at guardians”