Conservators are needed if you suspect abuse from taking place. They are established to prevent the abuse and waste of a protected person’s assets. If you are a family member or friend who has concerns, here’s what to look for to help protect your loved one from abuse:
Misappropriation of Funds
Conservators manage the financial assets of protected person, and generally handle the expenses and bills of the protected person. In most cases, they are generally allowed to spend money on debt, bills, certain financial investments and a few other areas, depending on the laws of your state.
It’s important to know the powers the court grants conservators in your state. If you see evidence that money is being used for something other than the protected person’s benefit, or outside of where a person is allowed to spend money, abuse is likely taking place.
If you begin to notice that bills that are piling up, property taxes are going unpaid, utilities are being turned off, etc., the conservator is not fulfilling their responsibilities, or something else may be occurring. Even if the conservator isn’t stealing money, it’s his or her responsibility to ensure these bills are being paid. Even if they aren’t stealing, they are not doing their assigned duties as a conservator.
The Protected Person Suspects Something
If the protected person mentions that some money has gone missing, this is a sign that something is amiss. Even if the protected person suffers from a cognitive disability, it may be worth it to investigate the matter.
If you or the protected person notice that certain names have been added to the bank account of the protected person that neither of your recognize, this is a big red flag. The same can be said about new, unfamiliar beneficiaries for life insurance, etc.
Seek Help if You Believe Abuse is Taking Place
What we’ve discussed may be signs that a conservator is exploiting the protected person. If there is no conservator, these may be signs that a person close to the protected person is taking advantage of him or her. If you believe that a protected person is at risk, it’s a good idea to have the court appoint a conservator to manage the protected person’s funds.
Note: in many states. Guardians have the power to petition to the court that a conservator is needed to manage the financial assets of a protected person. If you are a guardian, you have the power to help the court choose the right person.
What to Do if Your Suspect Abuse
It’s always good to stay vigilant. If you suspect abuse of a protected person, notify the applicable financial institutions of the issue. You can also notify adult protection services (here is the contact information for Minnesota) or get in touch with the courts in your state (if there is a conservatorship set up). Finally, you can also notify the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration (if their benefits are involved in abuse of fraud).
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.