Two prominent senators wrote to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week to express concerns about the guardianship system.
Guardians play a vital role in caring for an estimated 1.3 million people, yet sometimes guardians abuse their position. Due to a lack of information, there is little clear evidence to show what percentage of guardianships work and what percentage have issues.
The senators want the federal authorities to step up and oversee guardianship nationwide. They want them to gather the data so that lawmakers can address issues in the system and improve life for those living under another person’s control.
How can guardians abuse their position?
If a family member is under guardianship, it is essential to keep an eye on things to ensure the guardian does not breach their fiduciary duty or other responsibilities. Here are some of the things to watch for:
- Dwindling bank accounts: Not everyone can resist the temptation of free access to funds, and a guardian may use their ward’s money as their own.
- Poor healthcare decisions: Do not be afraid to consult other medics if you feel the guardian’s choice of health care provider or the decisions they make are harming your loved one.
- Abuse: Guardians may abuse their wards in numerous ways, including physically and mentally — and their victims may not be believed.
Guardians have a duty to provide annual reports to the court. If they are not, then they may be trying to hide something. Or it could be a sign they do not take their role seriously.
Challenging guardianship may not be easy, but neither is watching someone you care about suffering. If you have any doubts about your loved one’s guardianship, it is crucial to understand the options available to take action.