Guardianship abuse: what it entails and how to avoid it

Guardianship abuse is a type of elder abuse that occurs when a person who has been appointed as a guardian abuses their power. Unfortunately, guardianship abuse is much more common than you might think.

However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family and your assets. Guardianship is an essential part of a comprehensive estate plan, and if you haven’t spoken with an elder lawyer yet, we recommend you do so soon.

What is guardianship abuse?

When someone is unable to take care of themselves anymore, whether due to old age, mental or physical limitations, illness, or injury, the court will appoint a guardian to take care of them and handle all of their affairs. While the guardian is meant to protect the person they’re caring for and act in their best interest, we continually see cases of guardianship abuse that involve exploitation and neglect. 

Some of the most common ways guardians enact their abuse include:

  • Financial abuse.

    Guardians have access to a person’s bank accounts, assets, safety deposit boxes, and other important financial information. This means it’s easy for them to steal money from the person they’re supposed to be protecting, and if no one else has access to these bank accounts it can go unnoticed for a long time.

  • Neglect.

    Physical and emotional neglect are both types of guardianship abuse. Elderly people and people with mobility issues often have specific physical therapy exercises or rehabilitation exercises they must do daily, in addition to regular assistance with day-to-day tasks like grooming, bathing and meal planning. Guardians are also supposed to provide valuable emotional support for the person’s overall well being.

  • Changing a person’s will.

    You’ve probably seen courtroom drama TV shows about a guardian convincing someone to change their will, a decision that everyone finds out of character. Guardians who take advantage of people who aren’t of “sound mind” often do so to benefit themselves, and themselves only. 

How can you protect yourself and loved ones? 

To protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to guardianship abuse, we recommend building a strong estate plan that drastically reduces the chances the court will appoint a guardian for you. Whether it’s old age, illness, or injury, everyone is at risk of falling victim to guardianship abuse, so please speak with an estate planning attorney today who can help you safeguard yourself and your family. 

If you suspect someone you love is experiencing guardianship abuse, or if you’d like more information about how to protect yourself against guardianship abuse in the future, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit our website at:

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