Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Minnesota Safeguards Spending of Vulnerable Adult's Money

Auditors working in the Minnesota courts have exposed problems ranging from dubious fees to outright thefts by people appointed to safeguard more than $875 million held by dementia patients and other vulnerable adults.

In one Houston County case, the parents of a young man with cerebral palsy used his money to buy a truck for use on the family’s Alpaca ranch, noting that he enjoyed spending time with the animals. The judge ordered them to repay his estate $21,991 and post a bond of $200,000.

In Anoka County, auditors raised concerns about a conservator overseeing her husband’s accounts. They noted $20,000 in new debts, some undocumented loans to their daughter, the sale of their home without court approval, and $35,000 in ATM withdrawals, including many at Grand Casino. That matter is pending judicial review.

Auditors also raised concerns in several cases about professional conservators and their attorneys who charged high fees to handle simple tasks like opening e-mails and answering phone calls. One lawyer, working alongside a conservator in a Hennepin County case, billed $120 to drop a letter at the post office. He’s appealing an order that he repay $9,192 in fees.

“Money brings out the worst in people,” said Judge Jamie Anderson, who has overseen Hennepin County’s conservatorship cases for the past three years.

Judges have appointed conservators to manage the money of more than 5,600 Minnesotans deemed unable to do it themselves. About two-thirds of the conservators are family members of the protected persons. For the rest, typically where families are at odds or have large estates, the courts draw from a few hundred professionals.

Since 2012, auditors working for the Minnesota court system have been scrutinizing how those individuals spend the money entrusted to them, a process that has accelerated since a more robust financial reporting system went online in 2014. Most audits find everything in order. But in 10 to 15 percent of the cases, auditors find problems serious enough to require a judge’s review.

Full article and Source:
Minnesota Safeguards Spending of Vulnerable Adult's Money


Ronnie said...

Very good article, thank you! I hope this reporter sticks on the subject!

Finny said...

This is the first real report out of Minnesota in a long time. It's very encouraging. Thanks for posting, NASGA!