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Standing up to a guardian mistreating a vulnerable loved one

| May 12, 2021 | Guardianships & Conservatorships |

Some people are in a position of legal authority over others. Parents and legal guardians of children get to make medical and educational decisions for those miners until they reach adulthood. However, adults with certain special needs and older adults experiencing issues such as cognitive decline or dementia may also require a guardian.

The probate courts in Colorado can appoint an individual with a family relationship as guardian. Other times, they might appoint a professional to serve as guardian for a vulnerable adult. That guardian will assume responsibility for the ward’s needs and legal control over their finances and medical care.

Unfortunately, some people serving as a guardian may abuse that position. What should your family do if you suspect a guardian has misused their authority or mistreated your loved one? 

Try to document your concerns to prove them in court

If you believe that the guardian has engaged in financial abuse, mistreated your loved one or breached their fiduciary duty, you can go to the probate courts and ask them to intervene. However, you will need evidence beyond just your claim of misbehavior to prompt a judge into action.

Financial statements that show the questionable transfer of assets could help, as could statements by siblings or caregivers who have witnessed the mistreatment of an individual. Documentation that a guardian has been cruel, has wasted assets or has cut off an aging adult from their family could help demonstrate that they don’t act in the best interests of the vulnerable ward.

Even evidence that a guardian has failed in their obligations, like bills showing unpaid expenses, could raise serious questions about the performance and intention of the guardian. 

You can ask the courts to name someone else to handle those responsibilities

In rare cases, the ward subject to the guardianship could be at a point where they could ask for independence after an abusive situation with a guardian. Most of the time, however, removing a guardian creates a vacancy that the courts will quickly need to fill.

Whether you intend to step up as guardian or believe another family member might fill that role, finding someone who will put the ward’s needs first is crucial to the success of the guardianship.

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