Protecting Your Elders
Naturally, you want your older relatives to continue to lead interesting and productive lives as they age. But as they get older, seniors may have memory or judgment lapses. Dementia can creep in slowly, almost imperceptibly. Or a major or minor stroke can affect their mental capacity. Unfortunately, predators have found a lucrative target in seniors, a target that's growing as the population ages.
Conservatorship can go a long way to put your mind at ease. A conservator is appointed by the court to administer the financial affairs of a person who becomes unable to do so for themselves. The arrangement is flexible: A conservator can handle all the protected person's assets, or the court may restrict the conservator's powers depending on the situation.
Why a Conservatorship?
Unfortunately, it's very easy to scam an elderly person out of their money. And once a scammer finds a target, they won't let go until all the person's assets are drained. Scammers phone the elderly (sometimes as often as twenty times a day) and tell them they've won a prize and have to pay the taxes up front. They pretend to be relatives who have been arrested and need bail money. Or they say they're from the IRS and threaten to take the person's home. All the senior has to do is wire the money.
Worse than scammers are the elder's family members or friends, who are able to talk them out of money or property, or persuade them to sign legal papers "for their own protection."
A responsible conservator is able to avoid these predators. For more information on scams, go to http://www.fraud.org/learn/older-adult-fraud/they-can-t-hang-up
Setting Up A Conservatorship.
Conservatorships are governed by the California Probate Court and the Welfare Institution Codes. Talk with an attorney to establish the needs of your elder and what kind of legal protection will be most effective. The attorney can go to court on your behalf to establish a conservatorship.
Disability Rights California has excellent information on conservatorship at http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/pubs/523001.pdf
If you'd like to learn more about conservatorships, contact us for a consultation.