Financial exploitation in Minnesota is well documented and unfortunate issue that protected and elderly people and their loved ones must confront. When it comes to managing and distributing the assets of a protected person, there is some room for fraud and abuse, and this type of exploitation has been investigated by officials in Minnesota extensively (see the investigation’s methodology).
To limit the chances of financial exploitation (see the MN statute 609.2335 regarding Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults) from taking place, and to mitigate the effects of it should it take place, there are several things people can do when preparing for appointing a conservator, guardian, representative payee or any other fiduciary position in Minnesota.
Recognize the Indicators of Financial Exploitation
Spotting the first signs of financial exploitation and identifying it early is the best way to mitigate the effects of the abuse on the protected person. The various signs of financial exploitation include:
- Unpaid bills and rising debts
- Signs of neglect or distress in the protected person (despite adequate financial resources available to them)
- Sudden changes in legal documents (like Power of Attorney, wills, trusts, etc.)
- Alterations to bank account information or other important accounts
- Large purchases made for protected persons or to fiduciaries
- A caregiver’s sudden and excessive interest in the financial records and history of the protected person
- Isolation of the protected person
- The appearance of new people (relatives or not) who are claiming the rights to a person’s possessions or assets
- New people who are being paid large amounts of money for doing chores or performing other services for the protected person
Appoint a Reliable and Trusted Fiduciary
Appointing the right person for the role of representative payee, guardian or conservator is the best way to prevent fraud or abuse from taking place. Remember that the person who will assume responsibility for this role will have access to funds and assets that no one else has, and abuse can occur if the role is given to a person who cannot be trusted.
When it comes time to appoint a person for the position, make sure you appoint a very trustworthy family member or friend. Do not let a relatively new friend or acquaintance take on the role. If you cannot find the right person to appoint, there are professional companies who will charge to act as a fiduciary for your loved one. This may cost money, but it’s a better option than having a person potentially commit fraud or abuse.
Notify the Courts or An Attorney
If you suspect any fraud or abuse are taking place, you can contact the Minnesota courts or speak with an attorney (note: if you believe the protected person’s safety is in immediate danger, contact the police). You can report abuse at the MN Department of Human Services website.
Surety Bonds Provide Protection
There’s a good reason why a person who is appointed to be a guardian or conservator usually has to acquire a surety bond. These types of bonds will provide financial compensation in the event that fraud or abuse takes place.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.
To obtain a surety bond, contact The Patrick J. Thomas Agency today.