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What can I do to protect myself from an abusive guardianship?

Massachusetts residents should be aware of abuses taking place under guardianship and conservatorship arrangements. You may think you are unlikely to find yourself in this situation. However, according to Forbes, roughly 1 million to 2 million people in America are under conservatorship or guardianship.

These ideally provide protection for older adults, but far too often, guardians exploit their power. Here are a few steps you can take which may prevent the likelihood of this happening to you.

Be proactive

Do not wait until it is too late to resolve the issue without losing valuable time and money. Be proactive. Begin to set the wheels in motion to plan ahead and ensure you have all the documents you need in place to protect yourself.

Think carefully

Choosing your guardian may help to ensure you do not suffer abuses if incapacitated. However, this only works if you choose the right person. Think carefully about the person you appoint. He or she may literally have the right to choose between life and death, and prosperity versus bankruptcy, for you at some point.

Get consent

After you have thought carefully and made your decision, be sure to receive consent from the person. Not everyone wants that kind of power over someone else, or worse, may not know how to use it. Provide the person with the tools and information he or she needs to ensure that if the time comes, you may be able to count on a job well done. Remember: Ignorance can be just as damaging as willful malicious intent.

People do not often like to discuss plans to tie up affairs if they are incapacitated or deceased. In truth, even when they are willing, family members may not wish to share those discussions. However, by getting the dialogue started and beginning your planning process, you are already taking steps in the right direction.

Please note that this article is provided only for information purposes and should not be misconstrued as legal advice.

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