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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

New Jersey elder law: Can a stranger be named a guardian?

When people in New Jersey and elsewhere think about guardianships, they think that the person named to such a role will be a family member or close family friend. This is a person whom they know and someone they believe they can trust. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. If a stranger ends up being named as the guardian of an incapacitated adult, family members may turn to an experienced elder law attorney in order to seek to have the guardianship revoked.

There was a story recently shared in the news about a woman who, for 12 years, went to court and successfully sought guardianship of people she didn't even know. They are people she identified through rehabilitation centers, hospitals and physicians' offices. Over her career, she was able to achieve guardianship of over 400 individuals.

After being appointed as guardian, this individual and her associates would take inventory of the person's assets and then sell what she could and transfer all funds into an account in her own name. While taking everything from these individuals, she also charged them an hourly rate for services rendered. Instead of protecting those placed in her care, she used them and left them destitute -- often without their family members even knowing about it.

Thankfully, this individual has been caught and is facing criminal charges for her wrongdoing, but what will stop others from doing the same thing? Why can a judge grant guardianship to just anyone who comes in with the right paperwork? It is a scary thought. Those in New Jersey who are concerned about the actions of the guardians assigned to manage their loved one's affairs can, with the assistance of an elder law attorney, go to court in order to address the matter.

Source: boingboing.net, ""Court guardians" kidnap old people, sell all their stuff, doom victims to pharmaceutical oblivion in institutions", Oct. 4, 2017

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