Guardianship Changes Intended to Prevent Financial Exploitation

Madeleine Jones
May 31, 2016

elderly woman holding her cane, nursing home abuseIt is estimated that elder financial abuse costs Americans nearly $3 billion a year. It’s a considerable problem that robs seniors of their assets and denies rightful heirs their inheritance. For this reason, the Nevada Supreme Court has convened a panel that is recommending stepping up the state’s investigation and enforcement efforts by creating a fraud investigation office within the Office of the Attorney General. This office would have full subpoena powers and the authority to request and review audits of an individual’s assets, bank records, and the personal email records of guardians.

The state currently has 3,100 guardianship cases on file. 28% of these currently contain significant errors and lack the documentation required that could show whether financial abuse has taken place. Equally as concerning is that the judiciary reviewed the state’s guardianship cases and determined that up to 85% of seniors did not have legal representation during their guardianship proceedings.

Of primary concern is the abuse that can easily be conducted by an individual’s guardians. These are often family members entrusted with the protection of an individual’s assets and management of their finances. In many cases, the elderly victim is relegated to a nursing home and has little knowledge of the disposition of assets or accounts outside the four walls of their room. Moreover, they trust those closest to them not to steal and hesitate to confront them when theft has been discovered.

Nevada is a prime retirement destination, and the changes being considered by the Office of the Attorney General are similar to policies adopted by their Florida counterparts. In Florida, these changes have been used to uncover elder financial abuse and to protect seniors from further abuses. It is believed that adopting similar standards in Nevada and hiring trained forensic accountants will stem the rising tide of elder financial abuse. Unfortunately, while everyone on the Nevada Supreme Court’s panel discussing potential changes to the guardianship program agrees that more needs to be done, they have yet to determine when these changes would go into effect, or how the state intends to fund them.

A Las Vegas nursing home abuse attorney can help an individual protect their assets and finances from both unscrupulous staff or deceitful family members. Individuals who are victims of financial abuse should take immediate action to protect their assets and income. The longer the abuse is allowed to continue, the greater the financial damage can be.