Signs of Guardianship Abuse

The co-founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship recently organized a town hall meeting about guardianship.  The topic of the meeting is the increasing number of guardianship cases occur in which guardians take money from a loved one’s estate. This concern comes at a time when other states like Nevada have made multiple arrests of guardians who were accused of abusing their relationship with an incapacitated individual.  In addition to a lack of enforcement by the law of elder abuse, the meeting discussed the other inequalities that are occurring in the system.


The Types of Elder Abuse


Financial abuse is just one type of elder abuse. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention consider elder abuse to include any intentional act that has the potential to harm a person who is 60 years of age or older. 1 in 10 senior citizens are reported by the Center for Disease Control to be subject to elder abuse. Some of the common types of elder abuse are:


  • Emotional Abuse. This category includes abuse that is designed to create fear or humiliation in the older adult.
  • Neglect. Nursing home neglect most often involves the failure of caregivers to provide for the needs of older adults. In the most dire cases, senior citizens are left without food and water.
  • Physical Abuse. This behavior any type of physically aggressive behavior that is used while caring for an older adult.
  • Sexual Abuse. Any type of sexual harassment or unwanted sexual contact with a senior citizen falls into this category.


Signs of Elder Abuse


Some of the most common signs that an older adult is being physically abuse include the following:


  • Bruises around an older adult’s private areas is often a sign of sexual abuse.
  • Neglect in the form of bed sores, poor hygiene, or unexpected weight loss.
  • Strained relationships between the older adult and their caregiver.
  • Unexplained withdrawal by the older adult from activities that they previously enjoyed.


Signs of Financial Exploitation


Special note should be made of how financial exploitation is spotted because this is one of the most difficult types of abuse to spot. Any loved ones of the older adult who have access to their financial document should remain to alert to the following signs financial exploitation:  


  • ATM transactions that cannot be explained.
  • Balances in a senior citizen’s bank account that do not match their expected total.
  • Large and unexpected withdrawals from the older adult’s bank account.
  • Signatures forged on the older adult’s financial documents.
  • Unapproved use of the older adult’s ATM card, credit card, or debit card.
  • Unexplained difficulty paying bills even though the older adult has an adequate income.


Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney


If you believe that a loved one is being subject to guardianship, the assistance of a seasoned estate planning lawyer can prove to be particularly helpful. 

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