Elder law attorneys have been aware that elderly people are sometimes abused by guardians who receive inadequate court oversight. Despite the best efforts of attorneys and other elder law advocates, it has been difficult to curb the problem. Much of the evidence was derived anecdotally based on individual cases.
This has served to mask the overall scope of the problem in many states and in the U.S. as a whole. The General Accountability Office recently issued a report on the problem and offered some suggestions.
The report was the subject of hearings by the Senate Special Committee on Aging according to Financial Advisor in "Senators, GAO, Decry Elder Financial Abuse By Guardians, Complicit Courts."
One of the key recommendations is that courts should more carefully consider whether a guardian is necessary or if the elderly person could adequately be taken care of by a caregiver. If a guardian is appointed, then it is advised that the court should oversee the guardian’s actions and make assessments in the future about whether the guardian is still needed.
It was also recommended that guardians receive mandatory training on their responsibilities.
The government should have a better idea of the scope of this problem in the future. Next year, the Department of Health and Human Services will launch a National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System that will collect data from state agencies about elder abuse.
Reference: Financial Advisor (Dec. 1, 2016) "Senators, GAO, Decry Elder Financial Abuse By Guardians, Complicit Courts."