The United States Government Accountability Office ("GAO") released its 58-page Report to the Chairman, Special Committee on Aging, U.S. Senate: "Guardianships, Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, and Abuse of Seniors." (pdf)
Although the "GAO could not determine whether allegations of financial or physical abuse by guardians are widespread," the report reveals horrific stories of abuse and three common themes:
1. Abuse may occur when there is a failure by the court to adequately screen potential guardians, such as a failure to identify the proposed guardian’s prior criminal convictions or signficiant financial problems;
2. Abuse may occur when there is a failure by the court to oversee guardians; and
3. Abuse may occur when there is ineffective or failed communcation between the courts and federal or state agencies.
With the U.S. Census reporting that the number of Americans aged 65 and older increasing by 60% by the year 2025, this is an important matter for the financial and physical well-being of our aging population.
Protect yourself, your family, and your loved ones with preventative estate planning to incorporate Powers of Attorneys, Trusts, Wills, or other legal documents particularly suited to your needs.
And certainly, if you suspect abuse, speak up. Contact information to report suspected abuse in Oregon was previously posted on this blog.