Crooked Conservators

Here’s a real nightmare … Conservators who rip-off their elderly and incapacitated clients. How could they do this? Isn’t the court protecting the elderly person by monitoring their Conservator’s actions? Sort of, but not always, and many rip-offs slip through the cracks of a Judge’s overcrowded caseload and, sometimes, because of an unwillingness to do the extra work needed to ferret out these perpetrators.

For a real eye-opener into the real world of crooked conservators, inept monitoring of cases and the elderly victims’ plights, read the LA Times newspaper’s four-part series November 13 – 16, 2005 that describes actual cases in San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and San DiegoCounties.  It’ll knock your socks off.

Here’s an example: A 90 year old man (“dad”) has hearing and vision impairment but retains his mental capacity. During his lifetime, he has accumulated a house with two adjacent rental properties (including several apartments he rents out), $300,000 in cash assets, and $600,000 in antique automobiles that he collected and refurbished over 30+ years. One of his tenants is a long-time friend, and provides “companionship” care (grocery shopping, transportation to doctor visits, and general handyman) during most daylight hours.

A “professional” conservator appears on this scene, and convinces a judge that dad needs to appoint a conservator to handle dad’s finances and make medical decisions. The judge agrees, and soon the conservator hires a caregiving agency on almost a full-time basis. Unfortunately, this new caregiver doesn’t provide any meaningful service. He “shops” for dad each day, by going to McDonalds to buy breakfast and lunch for dad (with dad’s money, of course). No dietary assessment is sought, and dad’s vision and hearing problems escalate because neither the conservator nor caregiver have made any medical appointment for dad for nearly three years.

Dad’s lifestyle hasn’t changed at all because of the conservator’s involvement. In fact, it has deteriorated because of the lack of dietary monitoring and medical neglect.

Dad’s finances have changed — for the worse. Dad’s conservator has spent the $300,000 in cash assets on the “phantom” caregiving services, and now seeks another $100,000 for additional caregiving fees, conservator fees and attorney fees. The conservator also seeks to sell dad’s antique automobiles to pay for these additional bills