In previous posts this blog has discussed the increasing occurrence of financial scams targeted against the elderly in Virginia. Most of those scams, previous blogs have explained, are perpetrated by shady businesses and common criminals.
However, there is an even more disturbing source of financial scams against the elderly that has recently gained attention in the media. That source is people entrusted to carry out a person's estate planning decisions. Court-appointed guardians and conservators have recently been caught preying on senior citizens for financial gain.
There have been several disturbing stories in the news providing examples of this abuse. For example, a retired food service worker was charged several hundred dollars per hour by three different attorneys who were supposed to protect her from financial exploitation while a court-appointed conservator pilfered nearly $20,000 from her savings. Another example is from a woman who reported that a court-appointed guardian refused to let her see her mother on her mother's birthday. Yet another example involved a court-appointed guardian who physically abused the elderly person she was supposed to protect, leaving visible marks.
Often, court-appointed guardians and conservators are complete strangers. Yet, they are granted a significant amount of control over the financial and day-to-day decisions of the person they are assigned to make decisions for. That is a significant amount of power to give a stranger.
This highlights the importance of planning for the future, which includes deciding who is best suited to act as a conservator or guardian for a particular individual. Often, children or trusted friends act in these capacities, not strangers.
Source: The Washington Examiner, "D.C. Council ignores neglect, exploitation of seniors," Barbara Hollingsworth, June 12, 2012