Avoiding the potential for abuse in a guardianship

When injured, ill or aging adults here in Nevada and elsewhere are unable to care for themselves, family members or care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes often step in to act on behalf of the incapacitated individual. Unfortunately, there seem to be an increasing number of cases in which a guardian (the person/entity appointed by the court) abuses the power given by the court. A guardianship is supposed to protect the ward’s interests, but some people take advantage of their position and either mistreat the ward (the protected adult) personally or misappropriate assets belonging to him or her. Sadly, any abuse might not be discovered until it is too late.

Data from a 2014 survey that included a combination of 1,000 guardians, court staff and judges discovered that approximately 40 percent of those respondents claimed that a criminal background check was not necessary for a potential guardian. Six out of 10 respondents said that a financial/credit check was not required. Criminal and financial background checks could help courts identify potentially abusive guardians, but without them, there is no first line of defense.

Some courts require the guardian to be bonded, which could help make the protected person whole if fraud or misuse is perpetrated by the guardian. Even if the bond is issued, the courts do not have the time or resources to properly monitor the guardianship. Once a guardianship is ordered, the ward loses the ability to make decisions.

Avoiding the guardianship process altogether is one way to help ensure that abuse will not happen. Powers of attorney for health care and monetary issues leaves the power in the hands of the individual who could someday require assistance in handling their day-to-day lives, health care and financial decisions. A Nevada resident will be able to choose a person he or she trusts instead of relying on the court to determine who is able to adequately, honestly and efficiently handle matters. Doing so could also provide everyone peace of mind.

Source: newamericamedia.com, “THE GUARDIANSHIP TRAP: Fighting the Greed Factor in Elder Abuse“, Emily Gurnon, June 9, 2016

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Johnson & Johnson Law Offices - Probate Lawyers of Las Vegas, Nevada, provide representation throughout Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Overton, Logandale, Mountain's Edge, Aliante, Anthem, Sun City, Siena, Boulder City, Mesquite, Pahrump, Summerlin, Southern Highlands and Green Valley. This includes the counties of Clark County, Nye County, Lincoln County, as well as greater Southern Nevada.

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