When corporate guardians are appointed to look after the finances of elderly and disabled clients, they typically are dealing with the most vulnerable people in the county.
That's why the oversight of guardians must be stepped up.
The felony charges filed against Jeffrey M. Schend in Outagamie County highlight the need for more thorough reviews of how guardians spend their clients' money. Police say about $500,000 is missing from Schend's clients.
A promising first step came from Sue Lutz, the register in probate for Outgamie County. She said although Outagamie's rules are more stringent than state law, her office would work to alter its procedures in light of the Schend charges.
Counties must keep a closer watch on guardians' financial records. It might take a shift in funding to improve the process, but that would be worth it to protect the money of people who can't protect themselves.
Guardians, of course, are required to submit accurate reports. That's a fair assumption, but it needs to be confirmed regularly for the sake of the clients and their families, who sometimes feel helpless in guardianship cases.
Right now, the county treats guardianship cases similar to how the Internal Revenue Service conducts its spot checks — suspicious filings trigger audits. We think it's worth it for county officials to dedicate more resources to check even some of the documents that look legit.
The advice of writer Agatha Christie seems to apply here: "Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody."
Editorial: Keep a Closer Watch on Guardians