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.
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
NASGA: Power of Attorney