NCSC helps courts that work with guardianship abuse victims
A man who became comatose after a fall counted on his daughter, who was assigned to be his guardian, to oversee his finances. However, she withdrew $60,000 from her father’s savings account, made $20,000 in cash advances from another account, and hired a locksmith to enter his home and take what she wanted. She is under criminal investigation.
Another man, disabled since birth, was assigned a fiduciary to handle his finances, but the fiduciary used the man’s money to give himself and his friends no-interest “loans” and charged the man exorbitant accounting and trustee fees. He was caught and ordered to repay $300,000.
A woman with Alzheimer’s Disease was appointed two guardians, her daughter and a nephew. After the woman’s son raised a red flag, a court-appointed lawyer concluded that the nephew stole $100,000, and the daughter coerced her mother into signing over shares of stock and 40 acres of land, and she stole an heirloom diamond necklace from her mother’s house. She was ordered to return the land, the stock and the necklace, and the nephew was fined $200,000.
Although these cases are egregious, guardianship abuse is not rare, and that explains why NCSC researchers have for many years worked to help court officials as they aid the victims of these financial crimes. NCSC has two new products that aim to make it easier for courts to do this work.
The guardianship/conservatorship response protocol is a tool for judges and other court employees to respond effectively when they suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation in guardianship cases. At each stage of the process, the tool provides resources from other courts and directs court employees to the next step.
Of course, courts can’t effectively monitor these cases unless they have good information, and that’s where the guardianship/conservatorship recommended data elements come into play. They provide guidance to court employees on what data they should collect and how to define it and use it to monitor guardianship and conservatorship cases.
“We have a long history of working to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including those who need guardianships,” said Diane Robinson, a senior court research associate who staffs NCSC’s Center for Elders and the Courts. “Our new tools are just the most recent generation of products to help judges and court staff protect those individuals. The tools coordinate perfectly with the training we provide and our course, called “Finding the Right Fit.”
For more information on NCSC’s guardianship work, go here.
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