Elder abuse comes in many forms and unfortunately is much more prevalent than one would expect. According to some studies, ½ to ⅔ of financial elder abuse is inflicted by a family member. If you suspect elder abuse at a care facility or at home, you should contact an elder abuse attorney regarding your legal rights.
It’s important to note that If a loved one is suffering from elder abuse, the first step is getting your family member physically safe. If the individual is in a facility, they should be moved immediately. When they are in their own home with a family member who is neglecting or abusing them, sometimes you can’t get them out of the home without first filing for conservatorship.
A conservatorship is a court proceeding where one asks the court to find that an individual lacks the capacity or ability to care for themselves, or resist undue influence, and requests the appointment of another to make legal decisions on their behalf. You can ask the court to appoint you or a neutral third party called a Professional Fiduciary.
What are Professional Fiduciaries?
Professional fiduciaries are great when there is no family close by or the family cannot agree on who should be appointed. Professional fiduciaries are individuals that are licensed, bonded, and serve as a Trustee or conservator for a living. They typically bill hourly and their rates vary. Your elder abuse attorney can provide referrals to good professional fiduciaries that you can interview to determine who would be the best fit for your family.
What is a Conservator/Conservatorship?
When requesting appointment as Conservator, you can request appointment as Conservator of the Person and/or Estate depending on the facts and circumstances. A Conservatorship of the Person generally allows the Conservator to make decisions regarding an individual’s personal needs, health, food, clothing, and shelter.
A Conservator is the only person who can restrict access to a Conservatee. That means if a bad child or caregiver has moved into the Conservatee’s home, that bad child can’t restrict access, even if they have power of attorney. A Conservator can restrict access but more importantly, they have the legal authority to obtain a restraining order against the bad actor.
A Conservatorship of the Estate allows the Conservator to manage finances on behalf of a person who is substantially unable to manage their own finances or resist fraud or undue influence.
A Conservatorship provides greater protection than a financial Power of Attorney because it restricts access to finances from anyone but the Conservator, including the Conservatee. A financial Power of Attorney gives the Agent the power to manage the finances on behalf of the Principal, but the right and access is not exclusive.
What does that mean? A caregiver or bad child can still take mom to the bank and have her withdraw cash. The same applies to a trust, so even someone with proper estate planning may require a conservatorship if they are being taken advantage of.
Once the Conservatee is physically safe, the Conservator will have the legal authority to access bank records and medical documents to identify financial or physical elder abuse and determine an appropriate course of action moving forward and can file suit on behalf of the elder.
Finding an Elder Abuse Attorney
This type of abuse is growing at a very fast rate. Whether you notice your loved elder is experiencing physical, emotional, or financial abuse, it’s important to take immediate action. Working with an experienced California elder abuse attorney that understands the law, can navigate family dynamics, and be sensitive to the emotional challenges involved with elder abuse, will be the saving grace for both the victim and the family.
At Kam Law Firm, we are zealous advocates for our clients and understand the legal steps necessary to get you in a legal position to protect your vulnerable family member and to pursue litigation against the predator when necessary. If you have questions regarding elder abuse attorney fees and representation, or special needs trusts, please call us today for a free consultation at 619-535-1405.