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Corporate Guardianship: Choose Wisely

We all want to be taken care of in our old age. We want to maintain autonomy, freedom, and dignity, but we also want to know that our loved ones will look out for us and provide us with the best care possible. However, sometimes our family may not be able to do so. Or perhaps we don’t have family. On a sadder note, some family members may simply not want to care for us. So where do seniors turn in these situations when they can no longer provide for their own financial and day-to-day needs?

Professional Guardianship and Conservatorship Companies
Professionals in this arena are a relatively new creation. Over the past 10-15 years, people have begun turning to these companies to provide in-home care, financial management, and even companionship. But what exactly do they do, and how much do they charge? To answer this, we must first look at the different types of providers. They come in a couple flavors.

Professional Caregivers
Companies like Wisdom Elder Care and Lifecare Innovations, among many others, provide a host of “care management” services to seniors needing around the clock care. Services range from managing in-home caregiver schedules, paying bills, assisting with medication management, transportation to and from doctors’ appointments, house cleaning, arranging snow removal and house maintenance, and much more. They ease family concerns and allow seniors to remain at home. But these come at a steep cost. Some can charge as much as $8-10,000 per month in fees. Many are for-profit organizations, while others may be non-profit. Either way, depending on the services desired, the fees can be prohibitive for all but the wealthiest clients.

Professional Conservators
Much like trustees, these companies or individuals are trained to provide financial money management for those who can no longer do so themselves. Perhaps due to dementia, physical infirmity, or other disabilities, a senior may need someone to manage their bank accounts, pay their bills, invest their money prudently, and ensure ongoing payments to charities or debts. This requires a high level of trust, and sadly there are many unscrupulous groups and scams out there. The LA Times reported on this back in 2005, showing examples of bad guardians and conservators taking advantage of their trusted relationship with seniors.

What to do if you suspect abuse or theft by a professional guardian or conservator
If you suspect a caregiver, guardian, conservator, or other fiduciary is taking advantage of you or a loved on, you need to seek competent legal advice from a nursing home abuse attorney who can help find appropriate and reputable care. At times, this may mean filing a lawsuit to seek return of illegally acquired property and assets. Either way, the best strategy is prevention. Always include some plan for long-term guardianship, conservatorship and regular caregiver requirements in your estate plan.