The purpose of court appointed guardians is a simple and noble one. When a person is not competent to handle his or her own affairs, then a court can appoint a guardian to act on the person's behalf. The guardian is supposed to act selflessly and in the best interests of the ward. However, as the Wall Street Journal reports, in "Abuses Plague Guardianship Systems Across the Country," the financial abuse of elderly people by guardians is rampant throughout the United States.
Court appointed guardians with no family relationship to the elderly wards too often act in their own interests and deplete the wealth of the wards. This problem is mostly avoidable through estate planning. Part of a good estate plan is planning for end of life issues and getting a general durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. With those two documents, you can appoint someone you know and trust to look after your financial and medical affairs in case you are ever not competent to do so. Doing that can often make the appointment of a guardian unnecessary. Even if a guardian is necessary, a court will likely appoint the person you have already designated as trustworthy whenever possible. Do not fall victim to an abusive guardian.
Schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney and get the documentation that you need to make your own decisions about who should look after your affairs if you are not able to do so. You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.
Reference: Wall Street Journal (October 30, 2015) "Abuses Plague Guardianship Systems Across the Country"