Guardianships and conservatorships can be excellent tools for ensuring that the physical and financial needs of certain vulnerable individuals are met. Aging adults who are gradually losing the ability to live independently can benefit from the protection afforded them by a guardianship. Unfortunately, though, guardianships and conservatorships are sometimes used to abuse or take advantage of people. There have been reports of hundreds of cases of guardianship and conservatorship abuse across America, situations in which financial exploitation, neglect, and even physical violence against wards have occurred at the hands of the guardians who were supposed to look after them and ensure that their needs were met.
The rise of guardian and conservator abuse is concerning, especially as more and more baby boomers enter their later years. Guardianships are intended to be used sparingly since they take away so many rights all at once and hand them over to a family member or someone else appointed by the court. To compound the issue further, once a guardianship has been granted, it is tough for the ward to get it overturned because there has already been a determination that they are incapacitated and unable to make any decisions for themselves. It is also extremely expensive to try to get a guardianship overturned, and some people run out of money in the process.
Sometimes, it is possible to see signs of abuse or exploitation early enough in the guardianship process to prevent the guardianship from proceeding. Even if the abuse or exploitation does not get noticed until after the guardianship is underway, it is worth pursuing termination of the guardianship in the interest of preventing further damage.
The stories of the adults who have been abused or exploited by their guardians or conservators are heartbreaking. In some cases that involve the abuse of the guardianship process, the people who become wards do not even need guardians. Competent, physically able adults are sometimes stripped of their life savings after an illness or injury that landed them in the hospital for a bit. Guardians sell real estate, and adults who are capable of living on their own end up being placed in residential facilities, group homes, or nursing homes, where they are at risk of being abused and exploited. Children spend money in attempts to win the fight for control of their aging parents and their money. Unscrupulous individuals become guardians and take money from their wards. Unfortunately, courts are not often able to put the necessary resources into selecting appropriate guardians and overseeing the activities of guardian and conservators so that the issues may go unnoticed.
Guardian and conservator abuse are very real concerns. If you believe that you love may be suffering abuse at the hands of a guardian or a conservator, it is essential that you get help from an attorney right away. If you have legal questions about guardian and conservator abuse, Kansas Family Law Attorney Thomas McDowell is here to help you. Please call our office today, at (316) 633-4322 to make an appointment for your initial consultation.