Conservatorships are very personal arrangements when a family member, friend, or court-appointed worker steps in to make decisions on your loved one’s behalf. You sought out legal authority to intervene in their life since you witnessed patterns of ill-decision-making and incapacitation.
It is understandable to ensure the health and safety of a loved one with a diminished state of mind and body. But what happens in situations where the court appoints a conservator who is not looking out for the interests of the conservative?
The judge scrutinizes the person’s background, relationship to the individual, and other information before hiring them for the position. But you may see unexplainable odd behavior too many times for it to be a coincidence.
Your loved one’s conservator may have no answer to their abnormal gifting amounts, loss of property funds, and bounced checks. If the person is in fact taking advantage of your loved one, it is devastating.
To ensure that conservatorship abuse isn’t occurring, whether as financial or elder abuse, there are some common signs and behaviors to look out for.
What is a conservatorship?
A judge will appoint an interested person to run the affairs of a mentally-incapacitated person in a conservatorship. It’s a binding legal process that removes some of their civil rights to act in their best interest and protect them from harming themselves and others.
Most cases involving conservatorship involve an aging relative. Still, even young adults and special needs adults can become conservatees if the probate code determines they prove an inability to care for themselves and their affairs. Or they can rely on a medical professional to diagnose them with a physical or mental illness.
Conservators make daily decisions for the conservatee, such as living arrangements, activities, medical decisions, and managing their estate and financial responsibilities.
How can conservatorships be abused?
While conservatorships can help incapacitated individuals gain independence, they can also take advantage of the same persons. They are in a vulnerable position where the conservor could emotionally or force them to act against their will.
The most common reason for conservatorship abuse is financial abuse, which you may have seen with the famous Britney Spears conservatorship abuse case.
Due to the nature of the system, the law entitles conservators to payment for their services. But they can also acquire more than their fair share in sinister scenarios by manipulating the conservatorship bank account.
Conservatorship abuse can manifest itself physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. For instance, the responsible abuser can harm your loved one if they do not comply with demands or isolate them from family and friends.
What are the warning signs of conservatorship abuse?
It is vital to keep a close eye on aging or incapacitated family members to ensure they and their belongings receive adequate care. Conservatorship abuse can be difficult to spot because it can appear like care from the outside.
But there are several common signs and behaviors characteristic of conservatorship abuse. We recommend comparing these to your loved one’s situation and seeing if these are potential examples of abuse in their conservatorship.
- Significant changes in banking practices
- Abnormal gifting amounts (usually of lesser value)
- Substantial changes in estate plan or wills
- Unpaid bills or bounced payments
- Loss of funds and property
- Hovering conservator or appointed watchful eye
- Unanswered questions
- Excessive control of visitors and contact
What can I do if I suspect conservatorship abuse?
If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of conservatorship abuse, it is your duty to speak up. Your loved one is incapable of taking care of themselves and cannot resolve the issue on their own.
It is your job to sue the conservator or demand the judge terminate the conservatorship if the signs are clear.
The first step is reaching out to an experienced law firm for legal advice. Our experienced team practices in Los Angeles, Irvine, Laguna Hills, and more to ensure Californians are legally and properly cared for.
Call us today at (800).840.1998 to discuss your case and suspicions. We can help you stop inheritance theft guaranteed and protect the family members and friends you love the most.