Guardianship & Conservatorship

I’m not sure if anyone here has dealt with this, but I am curious how prevalent the issue is. Diane Dimond recently wrote a book called, We’re Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong. It’s about con artist guardians and conservators, and how they prey on elders, especially after they have been deemed to lack capacity, even though the elder may have created a trust outlining their wishes before they were deemed incapacitated. (A Netflix movie that does a good job portraying this issue is I Care a Lot.) Though Mrs. Dimond says most guardians are above board, it definitely seems to be an awful issue should someone experience it. ABC10 Sacramento did an investigative series on this issue in California called, “The Price of Care: Investigating California conservatorships,” and in that documentary, some elders were forbidden to see their family members and ended up in care homes that neglected or abused them, even resulting in a wrongful death. Through an uninformed or corrupted probate court, the corrupt conservator essentially “steals” the assets the elder may have meant for their family after their passing. The court may cite sibling or family disagreements as justification, and the conservator will use the money not only for the elder’s care, but they may charge exorbitant fees to manage the elder’s affairs so there is none left for the remaining family members to inherit. Has anyone dealt with this, or know someone who has? Since entire trusts have been absorbed into the probate system in this way, how would you protect yourself or help a loved one to protect their assets?

I’ve also heard stories about this despicable crime.

My heirs have copies of my Trust, along with names and p/w’s to all my financials, and they are named beneficiaries to everything. Of course that only takes affect when I’m gone, but we are in frequent contact so when I begin to mentally or physically fall apart, they have all the info to step in.

One can only do so much.

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That’s good. Do you think there could be any disagreement between them? Disagreements between siblings are often the reason things go to probate. Definitely true, only so much you can do!

In my limited experience, I think the spouses of siblings are the reason.

Boy howdy! I blame my late sister-in-law for the poor (and now non-existent, relation with my brother). Something my niece (her stepdaughter) agreed with. And she did everything she could to obliterate my niece’s existence. Am I bitter? Very much so.

Most states require probate. It is a means of making sure debts owed by the decedent are paid.

The conflict is baked into the situation from the start. You have to live with your spouse, you don’t have to live with your siblings.

Long ago my wife and I made a lifetime promise to each other; “We will not interfere with our spouse’s family business.” It has worked amazingly well!

It works well if all partners in the family business do the same.

The odds are against that happening, the equation probably looks something like this:
((# of siblings) + (# of sibling’s spouses)) x (total value of estate) = level of conflict

The “has worked amazingly well” part of my prior post applies only to our marriage, not our siblings.

I think control over decisions is a stronger cause of conflict than dollar value of the estate. The sibling rivalry from childhood can escalate dramatically.

That’s probably true… until you reach the financial threshold where a lawyer will take the case on a contingency basis.

People often change their tune when a substantial amount of money is on the table.