As individuals age, sometimes their mental faculties, their ability to think clearly, and their ability to make decisions in their own best interests becomes compromised. When this occurs, a guardian may need to be appointed in order to help the elderly individual manage his or her finances and make other important decisions regarding his or her welfare. This can help an elderly individual who is in good physical health maintain his or her independence during his or her later years of life. If left unchecked, however, the situation can encourage abuse and neglect of the elderly individual.
Who Chooses a Guardian for Your Loved One?
If your loved one does not leave any advance directives indicating whom he or she would like to serve as guardian if the circumstances call for it, either your family or (in some cases) the state may pursue a legal action asking the court to appoint a guardian. With few exceptions, an adult over the age of 18 years and/or a corporation or business can act as a guardian on behalf of an elderly individual. When individuals who are too busy to provide for their elderly loved ones on a full-time basis, they will often seek out the services of a professional caregiver who is usually paid a reasonable fee for his or her services.
Dangers of Allowing a “Professional” Caregiver to Serve as Guardian
When you permit someone to have control over your loved one’s affairs, that person can wreak havoc on your loved one’s finances if careful attention is not paid to the caregiver’s/guardian’s actions. Depending on the authority given to the guardian, the guardian may be able to:
- Transfer money from your loved one’s bank accounts to the personal accounts of the guardian;
- Cash retirement checks and/or government benefit checks on behalf of your loved one and pocket the money;
- Sell your loved one’s real and personal possessions; and/or
- Admit your loved one to a nursing home facility.
When a guardian takes advantage of your loved one in such a way, it can be difficult to undo the damage. In a significant number of cases, even if the guardian is charged with one or more criminal offenses, the likelihood of being able to recover the amounts stolen or misappropriated by your loved one’s guardian is slim. Where the guardian places your loved one in a nursing home facility (which can also be a place where your loved one is abused or neglected), having your loved one discharged can be equally vexing and difficult.
Protecting Yourself and Elderly Your Loved One from Abuse
Take care, therefore, to ensure the guardian you select to handle your loved one’s affairs is well-vetted and that he or she is not able to exercise his or her authority and powers without review. If your loved one is placed in a nursing home by a guardian and nursing home staff takes further abuse of your loved one, speak with us at Case Barnett Law. Call our firm at (949) 861-2990, or complete our online form and discuss your case and your elderly loved one’s needs with us immediately.