Thursday, April 23, 2015

5 Most Insidious Ways Elderly are Preyed Upon

A whole cottage industry of professional fiduciaries, called the "protection industry" by some, has sprung up around the dependent elderly who can't fend for themselves. These fiduciaries often manage many clients, play a paternalistic role in their lives, and demonstrate no or limited interest in their well-being. Some critics say that fiduciaries "profit off mostly helpless people."

Here are five things you should know about the protection industry.

1. A guardianship (also called a conservatorship) is the most restrictive form of court intervention and it may deny you all, or some, of your freedoms indefinitely.
A guardianship can strip a person of his or her basic freedoms—sometimes in just a matter of minutes—and can reduce him or her to the status of an infant.

The National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA), an organization that posts, blogs, tweets, and reports on guardianship abuse, calls the guardianship system "a growing menace which feeds on greed." It criticizes the judicial system for its complicity in usurping people's liberties and property.

2.No particular qualifications are required to become a conservator or a guardian.
No special qualifications or specialized knowledge in accounting, law, or social work are needed to become a conservator or a guardian. In most states, the single prerequisite is that a person must be mentally competent.

Only about 18 states place some restrictions on who can become a guardian, and just a handful of states prohibit convicted felons from being appointed as guardians.

3.Families and friends are often helpless to protect loved ones from an abusive guardian.
Not only is a loved one legally required to relinquish decision-making power over to court-appointed guardians and conservators, but the loved one is also rendered powerless to do something about it.

4.Few restrictions protect an elderly ward from an unscrupulous guardian.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report titled "Guardianships: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, and Abuse of Seniors" that explored the widespread allegations of elder mistreatment by guardians. The study found that state courts did not adequately screen guardians prior to their appointments, assigning people with criminal convictions and/or financial troubles to manage wards' substantial estates.

5. The legal system is ill-equipped to help elderly wards, because it [the system] is part of the problem.
Many elders have become victims of exploitation due to “lax” reporting standards and "generally inadequate" guardianship monitoring efforts by the courts, according to a 90-plus-page report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Full Article and Source:
5 Most Insidious Ways Elderly are Preyed Upon

See Also:
The Con Came:  A Failure of Trust


Nora said...

Great article on the protection industry!

Betty said...

I am so glad to see the subject of guardianship abuse growing in the media. Thank you for this one NASGA.

Jimmy said...

Guardianship abuse is insidious. I like that word choice.

Finny said...

This is good information for people. The word "guardian" has become a misnomer and people need to be aware so they don't just blindly walk into what they think will be a good situation and then find out they've walked into hades.

Anonymous said...

As this article so aptly points out, guardianship has become a tool for the exploiters. It's an easy crime, except that it's not considered a crime.

Anonymous said...

Another journalist writing about guardianship abuse. I love it!

Raymond said...

Thank you for posting this article because it tells the story of guardianship abuse in five short points that are easy to follow. I will pass it on.

honeybear said...

"The protection industry" is right. It's become a highly profitable industry sponging off the misfortunes of the frail.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for posting this article!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article and so important for all us to learn from. I have also read the book. The Con Game, The Failure of Trust, great play on words. As elders we can become prey if we are not careful.