Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How to Protect Yourself From an Abusive Guardianship

Most of us don’t think we would ever end up in a nursing home against our will. We can’t imagine having our hard-earned savings drained by someone assigned to take care of us. We would never believe that we might someday be kept away from the people we love the most.

But those are the kinds of nightmares suffered every day by some of the estimated one million to two million people who have been placed under guardianship or conservatorship in the United States.

Ordered by a judge, a guardianship or conservatorship is ideally a protection for older adults. But too often, it is a drastic measure often prompted by warring relatives, nursing homes that want to get paid or a “friend” who gains the trust of an older adult in order to take advantage of him or her. It’s based on a legal determination that the person is “incapacitated” and needs someone else to make decisions.

But there are things you can do now to make sure that becoming a victim of guardianship abuse does not happen to you or a loved one.

“While it is a sensitive topic, it is extremely important to prepare medical and financial powers of attorney in the event that you become incapacitated. The goal of estate planning is to ensure that you and your assets are protected,” said Melissa Cohen, an attorney with O’Reilly Rancilio in Sterling Heights. “Appointing the right person as your power of attorney is one of the most important aspects of estate planning and can prevent exploitation and unnecessary and costly litigation.”


Not only can guardianships and conservatorships be exploitive, the process is public, expensive and time-consuming, said Naomi Karp, senior policy advisor at the Office of Older Americans of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

The key to avoiding an abusive guardianship – which is likely to be extremely difficult to escape from if it happens – is to plan ahead.

Karp and other experts advise taking the following steps:

• Create a durable power of attorney for finances.
This is a document in which you name a person to make decisions for you if you cannot. (A regular, or “nondurable,” power of attorney ends if you lose mental capacity.) For instance, if you are severely injured in a car accident or incapacitated by a stroke, your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” will be able to sign financial documents, pay bills and buy things you need.

• Create a durable power of attorney for medical care.
With this document, also referred to as an advance directive, you designate a trusted person to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. The “agent” or “health care proxy” can get access to your medical records, talk to doctors about your condition, make decisions about getting you into a hospital or nursing home and grant or withhold permission for tests and treatments.

Full Article and Source:
How to Protect Yourself From an Abusive Guardianship

See Also:
NASGA: Power of Attorney


Finny said...

But you can do everything and they can still get you if you are targeted.

Holly said...

You are absolutely correct!

Anonymous said...

This is horrible, I don't understand why they can get away with this, for sure this is
Senior Abuse, where is the Health Department? Is their anyone doing anything about the heat? How can it be turn back on? Is this a Senior facility or an apartment? People still live in there? Where are the family's of these Seniors? It's just so unbelievable that its almost a joke or is it? In these days and times that this is really happening. It's cruel, mean, distributing, discussing, hateful, hurtful, It is so ugly that people can and do get away with such shameful thing. It's heartbreaking. (From, Anna)