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Did you know over 2.1 MILLION cases of elder abuse are reported each year?
This has to STOP!! These statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice are startling. However they go on to report that over 74.2% of those reports involve neglect or physical abuse. Help us stop financial exploitation, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect and any other form of mistreatment to elders or those in need.
The Nevada Association to Stop Guardian & Elder Abuse fights for the well-being and future of those in need of guardianship or other forms of care. We are their voice – their defender – their protector. We help shape the future by encouraging laws be passed and systems put in place to give all of us peace of mind that we or someone we love will never be a victim of any form of abuse or neglect.
Please help us protect and serve. Join us in being a voice for those that seem to have no voice.
Join us and be a protector too!
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Our Goals and Strategies
Top 5 Reasons for Abusive Guardianships
1. A Misconception of Guardianship
The first factor that contributes to unnecessary guardianships is a misconception of guardianship itself. The word “guardian” creates a warm and fuzzy image.
Guardianship is, however, a severe loss of liberty. With the misconception that guardianship is a good thing, proposed wards agree to it not understanding that their rights will be restricted.
2. Lowering of Standards
In many states, persons subject to guardianship were formerly deemed “incompetent.” To eliminate the stigma, many states, including Nevada use the term “incapacitated” instead. This terminology is also contained in the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act.
This change in terminology has caused an implicit lowering of the burden of proof. A judge might think twice about deeming someone “incompetent” to handle his affairs. But deeming someone “incapacitated” is not that big a deal. This definition facilitates putting one under guardianship.
3. Trolling for Clients
Some professional guardians petition the court to have themselves appointed guardian of persons with whom they have no prior relationship. If appointed, the professional guardian becomes entitled to an income stream namely fees from the person’s assets.
This practice has been termed “trolling for clients.” The LA Times describes one version, as follows: "Guardians find clients by sponsoring breakfasts at senior centers and networking at legal luncheons. . . . Once guardians identify a prospect, they can go to court and initiate a case without the client’s approval.”
4. The Burden of Proof
The supporting evidence for guardianship will usually not be by clear and convincing, but hearsay and innuendo. Case law provides that the constitutionally required burden of proof for a guardianship is “clear and convincing evidence.”
The guardian petitioner, however, is often not required to meet this burden because as a practical matter, he only needs to convince the judge without any opposition. Therefore, hearsay and innuendo are often sufficient.
5. “Guardian ad litem” Are Not Always Neutral
The role of a “guardian ad litem” is to provide a recommendation to the court as to whether the guardianship should be imposed. As all attorneys know, guardians ad litem are not always neutral; they instead follow their own value systems or other private criteria.
With this situation, attorneys often advocate for the appointment of a guardian ad litem whose views are compatible with their cases. They may also move for the appointment of a guardian ad litem with whom they have an established relationship.