Scammers prey on people from all walks of life, but those with mental or physical incapacities are particularly vulnerable. To safeguard them, they or their loved ones can appoint a conservator to manage their care and financial assets. However, because this role has significant responsibility over another person, it is particularly vulnerable to misuse.
What is conservator abuse?
Conservatorship often begins when someone observes their elderly, ill or disabled loved one struggling to manage their personal or financial matters. After filing a petition, the court will investigate the circumstances and appoint a conservator to manage the personal care or estate of the individual in need.
Regardless of the responsibilities provided to the conservator, the position holds considerable legal authority over the affairs of another person. Abusive conservators could exploit their position by neglecting the defenseless individual’s care or attempting to misappropriate their assets.
At first, the abuser might cut the person off from their family and friends. Later, they might refuse to the conservatee of medical care, change their will, take money out of their bank account or sell off their possessions.
Fighting conservatorship abuse
In California, conservatees retain many crucial freedoms, such as the ability to petition a review of their case in court or seek legal representation. But because they lack control, it can be hard for them to report abuse at all. At the same time, if the family knows the conservator, their relationship may hinder them from recognizing any wrongdoing.
Removing an individual from conservatorship might be complicated, but it is not impossible. Quick action should be taken if signs of financial mismanagement or negligence become apparent.