Guardianship is a setup that can protect an individual from endangerment often associated with incapacity. These risks can happen due to the ward’s inability to make significant health or financial decisions for themselves. A guardian could responsibly take over, but some can take advantage of this authority, potentially mistreating or abusing the ward.
Guardianship abuse is a serious matter, often making the ward’s condition worse over time. These incidents can vary from mild to severe, possibly leading to financial losses. The only way to address this abuse type is by reporting them to authorities immediately. The following offenses and misconduct can be examples of guardianship abuse:
- Mistreatment or neglect
- Misuse of the ward’s financial resources
- Exploitation of the ward’s impairments
- Theft of the ward’s belongings
- Other manipulative conduct meant to take advantage of the ward
Most of these violations can pass as criminal offenses, warranting urgent intervention.
What can the court do against guardianship abuse?
Guardianship abuse cases often go to court, allowing the judge to review their details and reveal crucial information necessary to determine what to do next. Depending on the situation, the court can order various actions, including the following:
- Freezing or restricting access to financial resources
- Forcing the guardian to pay for any losses on the ward’s accounts
- Reinstating visitation if the guardian isolated the ward from family and friends
- Replacing the guardian or ending the arrangement altogether
If the court sees that the ward can make personal decisions to a specific extent, it could issue other options with fewer restrictions. Other times, the court can appoint a co-guardian to prevent further neglect and mistreatment. The most appropriate action can vary, depending on the case details, the ward’s condition and what safety risks are present.