Too Busy to Think About Your Estate Planning? Think again. Not Having an Estate Plan Creates a Greater Chance of Becoming a Victim of a Guardianship Scam.
Trending now on Netflix is a new film “I Care a Lot,” starring Rosamund Pike as Marla Grayson, a character who uses probate court, corrupt doctors, unscrupulous lawyers and nursing home administrators as a weapon to syphon money from elderly individuals. This movie serves as a powerful reminder about estate planning and why it’s important for protection from guardianship scams. Pike’s character is a villain who targets the innocent and vulnerable, has herself declared as their guardian against their will and even without their knowledge, and then drains their assets because she has the legal authority to do so.
So can this really happen? We previously published a blog post referencing guardianship and how it is a very real scam that was discussed in another film, The Guardians. While guardianship is typically thought of as the care of a child, this process has a much wider definition in that anyone, of any age may, need a guardian for a variety of reasons. In Illinois, “Guardianship is needed when a person is unable to make and communicate responsible decisions regarding his personal care or finances due to a mental, physical or developmental disability.”. Guardians are typically appointed by a court, which allots for more protections for the incapacitated person.
The Netflix movie takes some “creative liberties” in regards to the legal process, which is done to obviously make the film entertaining. But, the fact is that there are loopholes in the system and these predatory guardians are out there more often than we think.
How an Estate Plan Protects You From Guardianship
The best way to protect yourself, or your loved ones, is to have a completed estate plan that would name your own guardians if or when you need one. An estate plan protects you from involuntary guardianship with a clear plan of what your wishes are if you were to become incapacitated and how to determine if you need a guardian in the first place. With an estate plan, it is very difficult for a guardian and/or conservator to be appointed against your will. An estate plan that includes a power of attorney for both financial and medical affairs will protect you in the case you do become incapacitated. With a well-drafted estate plan, you would decide who takes care of your affairs, and it would be difficult for a scammer to use the court system against your wishes. You can even include provisions stating that if your condition improves, you are back to being in charge of your affairs.
We can help make sure you are protected from guardianship scams and that your affairs would be in the right hands. Contact us to learn more about the estate planning process, or if you need to review any plans you already have in place.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.