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Recognizing signs of guardianship abuse in estates

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2024 | Guardianship |

Guardianship aims to protect those who cannot manage their own affairs and finances because of incapacity. Unfortunately, the process loses this key purpose when some guardians take advantage of their position and abuse their power. Consequently, it leaves the individual under guardianship vulnerable to physical and financial harm, among other risks.

Knowing the signs of guardianship abuse is essential to address and prevent such exploitation to protect the guarded individuals and maintain the integrity of their estate.

Financial indicators

Abuse of estate guardianship often manifests financially. Unusual or unexplained transactions are common telltale signs indicating unauthorized or improper use of estate funds. Moreover, significant financial losses in the estate can be a sign of mismanagement of assets due to the guardian’s neglect of fiduciary duties. Lastly, a guardian’s personal gain, simultaneous with the estate’s financial loss, may indicate the exploitation of assets.

Behavioral signs

Sometimes, abuse of guardianship power is not apparent on paper but is evident in the guardian’s behavior. If a guardian makes sudden changes in the owner’s estate planning documents, fails to practice transparency in their management and record-keeping or resists the estate beneficiaries’ involvement in the process, they may be guilty of abusing their guardianship power.

Other indicators

Abuse of guardianship may also be apparent in the legal and ethical aspects of the process. For instance, a guardian who lets others influence their estate decisions, disregarding impartiality and the ward’s best interests, should be investigated for abuse. Moreover, any violations of guardianship rules signify a breach of the guardian’s responsibilities, undermining the trust inherent in the role.

Recognizing signs of guardianship abuse is critical in protecting owners, their estates and beneficiaries. By keeping alert to inconsistencies, conflicts of interest and legal breaches, we can ensure guardians uphold their duties, preserving the integrity of the estate and protecting the well-being of those who depend on it.