Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Protections of Guardianships for Seniors in California

Q: Can guardianships for seniors help prevent elder abuse?

He almost got away with it. And some speculate he may have had other victims before.

In what surely ranks high on the list of ultimate California elder abuse cases, a so-called caretaker of his wife's elderly distant cousin who died under suspicious circumstances, reportedly received a three-year prison sentence in a last-minute plea bargain in which he pled guilty to:

  • "felony elder abuse,
  • attempted grand theft,
  • possession of a forged driver’s license,
  • money laundering derived from criminal activity,
  • two counts of forgery of notary public or corporate seals,
  • two counts of attempt to file false/forged instruments,
  • four counts of second-degree burglary,
  • seven counts of grand theft; and
  • 23 counts of acts constituting forgery".

Had she established a guardianship for seniors, the dead woman may have been protected and the bizarre scenario thwarted.

During the eight days in March, 2016, that he was the woman's caretaker, authorities claim he allowed her "to be injured or endangered under circumstances likely to produce great bodily injury or death". And when she did die sometime that month, he didn't contact the authorities, paramedics, or the corner, instead choosing to hire a private body removal service to deliver her body to an out-of-town crematory where it was cremated without the authorities or the woman's family members being notified.

He was caught after the woman's cousin alerted authorities when she couldn’t reach her and after learning her cousin’s house was supposedly put up for sale by her “brother” --but her only brother had died before she was born.

The elaborate scheme and attempted sale of the victim’s home reportedly had the defendant impersonating not only the victim’s brother, but a real estate broker, an attorney, and a doctor.

Fortunately, this level of elder abuse is less common, but incidents of financial and physical elder abuse can often be prevented by seeing a skilled estate planning attorney and establishing guardianships for seniors.

Guardianships for seniors are legal arrangements designed to protect seniors who are no longer able to make sound decisions about their health care or their property or people who could be prone to fraud or undue external influence. Guardianships of the person involved non-financial matters that impact the senior’s well-being and include making medical decisions, whereas guardianships of the estate or property empower guardians to make important financial decisions on the half of the senior.

If you or a loved one are the victim of elder abuse, or would like to discuss establishing a guardianship for seniors, the estate planning specialists at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge can help you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

From our offices in San Jose, we've been proudly serving the South Bay area of California for over 23 years.

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