Conservatorships can protect the vulnerable from financial abuse

If your loved one is a senior, an adult with a mental disability or other adult dependent, they may be vulnerable to financial exploitation. Whether it’s because of age or cognitive impairment, your loved one may no longer be able to adequately handle and protect their life savings and estate. Perhaps they’ll trust a money decision to someone and get betrayed or have funds stolen from them without their even realizing it.

Sadly, the rate of financial abuse among elders and dependent adults is fast-growing and incredibly high. According to a study, one in 20 older adults said they were recently financially mistreated. This form of abuse is also under-reported, with merely one in 44 instances of financial exploitation being discussed, probably due to factors like feelings of shame and guilt or just a lack of awareness or even dementia.

That’s why it can be in the best interest of your loved one to have a conservator appointed to manage their finances. Oftentimes, this conservator will be a relative or other trusted person. However, you need to be sure this individual will faithfully fulfill the responsibilities of the conservatorship and not act selfishly. Some 90% of financial abusers are members of the family or other trusted persons — such as caretakers, friends, neighbors, bank employees, religious leaders, nursing home staff and medical professionals — although exploitation by scammers and other strangers is also widespread.

If you are capable and up for the job, you can offer to be your loved one’s conservator. These issues can be complicated, though, due to other family members’ opinions, the high potential for litigation and necessary legal actions. Talk to an experienced Los Angeles attorney who will help you understand your options and fight on your behalf to help safeguard your loved one’s estate.