When a guardian is appointed by a court to look after the affairs of a ward, they must look out for the ward’s physical and financial well-being. Unfortunately, people who get placed in the position of guardian do not always have the best interest of their wards in mind. Some people abuse the role of guardian and use their position to steal from those that they have been appointed to look after.
In Nevada, a court-appointed guardian, along with her employee and her friend got charged with a total of two hundred and seventy counts of criminal activity in connection with their exploitation of over a hundred and fifty victims. The charges fall into the general categories of racketeering, exploitation of vulnerable parties, and theft. The woman had a business that allegedly provided professional guardianship services, and the court appointed the business as guardian for numerous wards. During the time that the wards were under the guardianship of the business, they were overbilled for some services and billed for other services that never got performed.
When a court appoints a guardian, that guardian becomes responsible for every aspect of their ward’s life, from their health to their housing, their long-term financial stability, their monthly bills and everything in between. When a guardian performs their role with the integrity that is expected of them, the physical and financial needs of their wards get met. Unfortunately, guardianships sometimes get used to abuse or take advantage of people. Hundreds of cases of guardianship abuse have been reported from across America. A variety of harmful things, including neglect, financial exploitation, and even physical violence have been committed against wards by the guardians appointed to look after them.
The rise of guardianship abuse is particularly disturbing because a large segment of the population, the baby boomers, are entering their later years. While guardianships are intended to be used sparingly because they take away so many rights all at once, sometimes even well-meaning friends and family pursue guardianships instead of other options for care. Sometimes they do not know about less restrictive options for meeting their friend or family member’s needs, and other times they simply do not choose to pursue those less restrictive options that could address specific needs of their aging family members and friends while allowing them to keep as many rights and freedoms as they can manage.
When a guardianship gets granted, it is extremely difficult for the ward or anyone else to get it overturned. Courts are reluctant to revisit the determinations that they made that the wards are incapacitated and cannot make any decisions for themselves. Because overturning guardianships is so difficult, it is also costly, and some people have run out of money attempting to do so. As costly as it is, though, it is important to get a guardianship overturned or a new guardian appointed if a ward is getting abused. If you believe someone you know might be getting abused by their guardian, get help from an attorney right away.
If you have estate planning questions, call the law office of J. Joseph Weber, P.A. at 316-265-7802 for an initial consultation, or connect with us online. Our office in Wichita is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We even offer some weekend and evening hours by appointment.