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Jul 22, 2021 by |

Alameda County Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: How Conservators And Other Fiduciaries Financially Exploit Elder And Dependent Adults

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Control Of Court-Appointed Fiduciaries Over Seniors And Dependent Adults

When Court-Appointed Fiduciaries Abuse That Position

Recourse For Families

Conservatorships and other Court-ordered protections for elder and dependent adults are meant to protect those persons because they are unable to provide for their own needs.  With court authorization, these conservators, guardians or trustees essentially control the lives of the dependent individuals they are appointed to protect.  These court appointments supersede earlier Powers of Attorney, trustee nominations and the like, leaving the appointed fiduciary is in complete control.  Wherever this kind of power and money mix there are inherent risks of abuse of that power and conflicts of interest arise.  Lack of court supervision and cronyism may overlook mismanagement, dereliction of duty, and inappropriate delegation of responsibilities.  The court appointees may charge exorbitant fees, cause estate Wills or trusts to be drawn for a conservator’s own benefit, fail to accommodate a conservatee’s changing needs or just outright steal.  If an acting conservator needs to be removed or replaced, Evans Law Firm, Inc. can help.  We represent seniors and other dependent adults in San Francisco, Alameda County and throughout California who need a change in a conservatorship in order to better manage a conservatee’s personal or financial affairs.  If you or a loved one need that kind of legal assistance, call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Example Of Conservator Theft And Abuse

One study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that people in trusted roles such as conservators steal millions every from the very persons they are appointed (and paid) to protect.  A recent arrest serves as an important example of this danger.[1] In the reported case, and elderly WWII veteran and his wife, parents of seven grown children, allegedly lost everything under the control of a court-appointed guardian.  According to the authorities, the trouble started when the couple’s children had a disagreement about managing their parents’ affairs and a judge appointed a guardian (known as a conservator in California), who took control of the couple’s estate.  The guardian/conservator controlled the couple’s money and put them in a nursing home, according to police.  As their savings dried up and her parents complained about the nursing home, one of their children felt the guardian should be removed from their case, but a judge never agreed.  Eventually, authorities raided the nursing home where the couple had been placed and arrested its administrators for abusing and neglecting residents. Later, detectives turned their investigations to the court-appointed guardian and arrested him for theft, money laundering and elder abuse. Prosecutors alleged that he stole about $10,000 from the couple, and hundreds of thousands more from other wards.  He pleaded guilty to 15 counts relating to his guardianship cases, including money laundering, theft and exploitation of an elderly person. He is awaiting sentencing.  But the investigation comes too late for the elderly couple he swindled; both of them have passed away.  One of the couple’s children old reporters:  “I don’t want to be this angry. I’m angry at the system and the people who did this to my mother and father. It didn’t have to be this way.”

Detecting Conservator Abuse

Families of older persons in conservatorships should monitor their older loved one’s well-being and be mindful of some red flags of conservator abuse

  • The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.
  • Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.
  • Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.
  • You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.
  • You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.
  • Changes have been made to estate planning documents.
  • New bank accounts have been opened.
  • The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.
  • When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.
  • If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.
  • The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.
  • You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.
  • Items are missing items from your loved one’s home.
  • The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has a problem with a California conservatorship or has been a victim of a breach of fiduciary duty by a trustee or other fiduciary in San Francisco, Alameda County or elsewhere in California or, contact Ingrid M. Evans at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the case in any way.

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