What is guardianship abuse, and how does the court address it?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | Guardianship and Conservatorship |

Entering guardianship is a serious matter. It happens when an incapacitated individual or a ward relinquishes vital responsibilities and decision-making capabilities to another person or a guardian. Guardians should be looking out for their wards. However, they might abuse their role, resulting in mistreatment or neglect.

Guardianship abuse happens when a guardian neglects, abuses or exploits their ward. It could include a range of unlawful actions, such as theft, embezzlement, isolation, coercion, violence and manipulation. The court could receive complaints or reports of this type of abuse. Then, they could enforce specific orders to address the incident immediately.

What can the court do to address the abuse?

The court could respond based on what form of abuse happened. After receiving the complaint, they could take the following actions:

  • Freezing or restricting accounts: The court could do so to protect the ward’s assets and property from the potentially abusive guardian.
  • Conduct investigations: They could appoint someone to investigate the allegations. They could also audit the ward’s assets to discover any suspicious activity.
  • Impose repayment orders for any losses: If the guardian’s misconduct causes losses, the court could order them to cover them.
  • Enforce the ward’s communication and visitation rights: If the guardian isolated the ward, the court could take legal action to help them reconnect and interact with others.
  • Limiting the guardian’s control: The court could order restrictions or appoint a co-guardian.
  • Removing the guardian: The court could assess the case and immediately order the guardian’s removal.
  • Termination: If the ward’s condition allows it, the court could end the guardianship and resort to less restrictive alternatives.

Still, the correct course of action could vary depending on the case details and investigation findings.

Protecting the ward’s welfare

Guardianship is an option to address the needs of an incapacitated individual. There are possibilities of mistreatment, neglect or abuse, but the law has provisions against them, protecting wards and their rights.


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