Mercury News reporter Karen de Sá's report on the court-sanctioned raiding of vulnerable Santa Clara County residents' assets is heartbreaking and infuriating. How can this usually progressive county allow court-appointed conservators to prey upon people the courts are supposed to protect?
Other counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin, have guidelines that prevent conservators from charging exorbitant fees and draining the bank accounts of the elderly and disabled. Since de Sá began her inquiries, Santa Clara County is considering doing the same. No kidding. The pity is that it can't make the rules retroactive. Maybe the judges who have allowed this to go on could take up a collection for the victims.
Most conservators in Santa Clara County charge reasonably for their important work. But de Sá's six-month investigation found a small group of court-appointed personal and estate managers submitting huge, questionable bills -- and if people challenge them, they charge more. These are licensed professionals appointed to handle the affairs of clients who have resources but cannot manage them themselves.
Once the conservators -- and think of the irony of that label -- milk bank accounts dry, people who thought they were financially secure are faced with needing government assistance. And that means everybody pays for this predation.
Full Editorial and Source:
County Judges Must Impose Tighter Rules for Managing Vulnerable Residents' Estates
The Mercury News' "Loss of Trust" Series (Anchor article)