If no designated beneficiary or advance directive exists or either is contested, a guardian may be assigned by the court to oversee financial matters in cases where an individual is no longer able to do so for themselves. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous guardians looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation encourages Floridians to be aware of the red flags indicating potential guardian financial abuse.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) recently unveiled a new publication, “Guarding the Guardians,” aimed at helping consumers identify signs of guardian financial abuse. Signs of potential financial abuse by a guardian may include:
- Using guardianship authority to transfer property for the guardian’s benefit.
- Receiving personal payments from a protected individual without court permission.
- Authorizing frequent cash withdrawals from the protected individual’s accounts without explanation.
- Using or borrowing property for personal benefit without court authorization.
- Making unexplained decisions that are not in the protected individual’s best interest.
Even though a family member may not want to take on the role and responsibilities associated with guardianship, it’s still important for a family member or trusted contact to monitor the activities of the guardian. If you suspect abuse, contact appropriate authorities, such as law enforcement, Adult Protective Services, or your legal representative. “Guarding the Guardians” can be downloaded from NASAA’s Serve Our Seniors website here.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation offers Floridians a robust online Consumer Knowledge Center, where you can find more information on several financial topics.
To report suspected guardian financial abuse, please contact Adult Protective Services and local law enforcement.