On Sunday, the HBO comedy-news program “Last Week Tonight” took their main show segment to highlight the issues of Guardianship in the United States.
Host John Oliver first presented the case of the Rudy and Renny North — a Las Vegas couple who found themselves ensnared in a broken system of Guardianship. Without any prior knowledge, the Norths were placed under the guardianship of a total stranger only to see all of their money and assets vanish by the time they were able to get out from underneath their guardian.
To review, guardianship is a court-appointed system in which mostly affects the elderly. When a person is deemed to be incapable of making their own decisions through their own mental faculties, a court will appoint a “guardian” to assist in making important life decisions. This guardian can be a family member or a paid professional.
As the video goes on to explain, there are over 1.3 million people under the care of a guardian or conservator in America right now. If you keep watching around the 4:50 mark, you might be shocked to find out how much power a guardian can have over the person they care for.
From around the five-minute mark to the ten-minute mark, Oliver goes into detail on the frivolous charges a nefarious guardian can rack up if left unaccounted for. Taking a limo to a Phoenix Suns game doesn’t seem like the kind of trip you would take with an elderly person who’s not in the best mental health, does it?
April Parks, the Guardian highlighted in the show’s piece, was holding guardianship over 100 people at a time and would bill over 100 hours a day for these wards. She’s no isolated incident either — this is a problem guardianship lawyers regularly see when working cases all across the country.
Most importantly, Oliver highlighted the fact there is no governing body which oversees the day-to-day activities of guardians around the country. County probate courts are in charge of guardianships and as pointed out in the video, are often incapable of tracking these people due to a lack of resources.
As the map at the 10:52 mark indicates, South Carolina does not require court-appointed guardians to be certified. So while the idea of guardianship for our elderly is a great concept and often works, Oliver correctly points out there are some gaping flaws in the system that cannot be easily navigated.
What Oliver failed to mention is how a local conservator and guardianship attorney can help deter some of these nightmares from the get-go. A guardianship attorney can help you:
- Draft a necessary summons to the court
- Properly explain your loved one’s incapacity to the court
- Give you information on good, recommended guardians
Angela Frazier was recently named as one of the top ten family lawyers in South Carolina by NAFLA and is experienced in handling conservator and guardianship cases in Greenville, SC. If you have hesitations about appointing a guardian to your loved one, call our office today at 864-256-3553 for a free consultation today.