Elderly Guardianship is a legal relationship appointed by the court, which grants another individual the ability to care for an elderly individual who has been deemed unable to care for his/her self. The person who is granted guardianship over this elderly individual now legally refers to the elder as their ward and this guardian assumes full power over the ward’s assets and interests. These circumstances can be necessary in situations where the older individual is impaired and can no longer remember to take medications or is unable to maintain self finances and care. In many cases, a family member will assume guardianship over that individual however, there are also several cases where the state will appoint a “private” guardian. Often times, this private guardian will be a complete stranger and that stranger becomes entitled to compensation for their services from the elders estate and belongings. This epidemic has led to an industry of paid professional guardians who assume full responsibility over the assets of elders and unfortunately, often time leads to many levels of abuse. It is important to know you rights as an elderly individual and recognize that if you have not made legal arrangements for a guardian the state could “legally” appoint you one at any time.
The aftermath of an elderly guardianship relationship can be devastating as these guardians are granted the ability to sell the elder’s home, make medical decisions on their behalf, as well as handle all the elder’s finances. In many cases the elders were deemed “incapacitated ” through a simple physician’s note vaguely stating so, with many of these individuals having no clue this was even happening. Once the professional guardian gets the doctors note approved with the court, it is very simple for them to apply and be granted guardianship over the elderly individual. The process is sometimes as horrific as a complete stranger or “guardian” knocking on the door of an elderly individual and informing them they have a state order to place them in nursing home. They guardian will force the panicked elderly individual to comply and place them in a nursing home where they will often stay until death. Many of the elderly’s family have no idea their loved one has been taken from their home and placed in a care facility. The guardian also has the ability to regulate who the elderly individual is able to have visitation and calls from ,leaving many families banned from visiting their own parent or loved one. The abuse in this industry is very clear as some guardians are responsible for up to 400 wards at a time, receiving “reasonable”compensation from all 400’s assets.
In order to help prevent this kind of abuse from happening it is best to be proactive about your future and know all of you rights. Conduct a thorough power of attorney that grants someone you trust, to manage your assets and become your guardianship should the need arise. Insert a clause that allows for this person to be replaced if certain changes in your relationship( divorce, fraud, etc.) and appoint another trusted individual. Be sure to update your power of attorney every few years as a best practice and don’t be afraid to have multiple professionals review it for any grey areas.
If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about Long Term Care Insurance be sure to visit: LTC TREE for more information.