Written by Lake City Presbyterian on October 4, 2017
“The Danger Age”:
As the boomer population moves into old age, the numbers of people affected by guardianship and conservatorship will rise “tremendously.”
With as little as a single document — and in some cases, not even a court hearing — older adults can see their most basic rights stripped away. They cannot vote, get married or get divorced. A family member or a stranger appointed by the court will decide where they will live, how their money will be spent, what health care they will get or not get, when they will go out, when and where they may travel and whom they are allowed to see.
Rarely is an “incapacitated person” or ward able to get a guardianship or conservatorship terminated — until death.
Once the courts have determined a person “incapacitated”, everything you say or do is meaningless. “You can’t even get an attorney, because a judge has already determined that you don’t have the ability to make decisions for yourself.” Those who do try to fight often end up paying exorbitant amounts of money.
The No. 1 complaint is guardians who try to isolate older adults from their loved ones.
What is meant by the terms “guardian” and “conservator” varies depending on the state. National groups working on reform efforts use “guardian” to refer to a person appointed by the court to make decisions over an individual and “conservator” to refer to a person appointed to handle the estate. Some use the terms interchangeably or use one to cover both situations.
It is difficult to impossible to know how many people are under guardianship or conservatorship in the United States. Many states do not do comprehensive record-keeping.
Despite the lack of statistics, those familiar with the system say the vast majority of guardians and conservators, perhaps 80 percent or more, are relatives of the incapacitated person.
See you next month and God Bless,