Is it possible to be granted Guardianship or Conservatorship based on my elderly father's behavior? We have tried to stop him, but he has continued to send money to sweepstakes companies since last May. He refuses to believe they are not legitimate. We spoke with him directly, called the company, contacted the FBI, FTC, IRS, etc.. No one has been able to help us. What should I do?
I am currently working with someone with the same issue. Do not allow your father to have an active or inactive checkbook available to him. Have all his mail sent to you. Lottery scams are very prevalent among the elderly. Change his phone number to an unlisted phone. You may want to have Protective Services or Dept of Homeland Security chat with him--sure scared my client!
The laws in Massachusetts regarding Guardianship/Conservatorship are sensitive to the rights of the proposed incapacitated individual and, as a result, encourage limited guardianships/conservatorships. The fact that your father spends money on poor investments is not conclusive proof of his inability to handle his own finances (although it may be helpful argument for it). If your father is unwilling to curtail his behavior, I would recommend a collaborative effort between your father, your family, your father’s primary care physician, and an experienced elder law attorney to achieve the desired result of curtailing his “waste” of money. Conservatorship may be the possible end result, but the way in which you approach the end result is critical.
In Massachusetts, a family member cannot be appointed as conservator or guardian unless your father's doctor signs an approved medical certificate that confirms that he needs a conservator or guardian. You must start conservator or guardianship proceedings in the local Probate Court by filing a Petition. The Petition will not be granted without the Medical Certificate. You can tell your father's doctor about your father's behavior, but the doctor has to decide whether or not your father needs a conservator or guardian.
Assuming you father lives in Massachusetts: You could have your father evaluated by a physician to determine if he is still competent to manage his affairs. Though competency is not based on one behavior alone, his behavior may indicate a larger mental health issue. His primary care physician should be able to recommend an appropriate physician to conduct a competency evaluation. If your father is not competent, then you could request that the court appoint a guardian, a conservator, or both.
If your father has a health care proxy and power of attorney, you might also consider enlisting the help of the agent named in his documents. Perhaps you, your family, and your father could agree on a monthly budget limiting the amount he spends on these bogus sweepstakes, if they are important to him, or perhaps you could find other ways to help manage his behavior short of court involvement.
Best of luck to you and your father.
The first issue is: What is your concern? Does your father have limited resources so that the payments are interfering with his ability to support himself?
Are the payments substantial so that he runs the risk of running out of money during his lifetime.
If the answer to those questions is "Yes," then it may be appropriate to seek a guardianship.
If not, then one might regard his payments to be nothing more than silly forms of gambling.
Many people go to casinos, buy lottery tickets, play bingo, and bet on football games.
Some people spend inordinate sums of money on clothes, cars, gifts to grandchildren.
As you can see, what your father is doing could be serious and require intervention.
Or it could be regarded as harmless fun.
It depends upon the cirumstances
Firsts I would need more facts to give a proper answer. Second, based on your description, it is not clear to me if you are seeking a conservatorship or a guardianship. Third, understand that the process can be daunting.
The Court's appointment of a guardian indicates that the ward is someone who, for physical or mental reasons, is considered incapable of managing his or her own affairs, either financial or personal, or, in most cases, both. This is proven by medical evidence.
On the other hand, a Conservator is authorized by the Probate Court to manage ONLY the ward’s assets and income. The Conservator does NOT have authority to make health or related personal decisions for the ward.
A Guardian has a fiduciary duty to the ward. Specifically these duties include (1) serve the ward’s interests not your own, (2) invest the ward’s assets prudently, and (3) obtain authority from the court for unusual financial activity.
The process starts with having a person medically evaluated.
I hope this information was helpful.
It is possible that your father's behavior demonstrates the need for some degree of protection from financial exploitation. In order to obtain Conservatorship or Guardianship of your father, you would need to have a Medical Certificate completed by the appropriate health care professional who have personally examined your father within the last 30 days.
You could try petitoning the court for a conservatorship, taking charge of ALL Dad's financial affairs. Dad would have the right to object. The Court may just appoint a temporary conservatorship and then extend it if necerssary. Please keep in mind that Dad does have the right to give all his money away so you would need to show to the court that his behaviour is endaring his customary way of life and that his bills are not being paid such as living expenses, food, clothing and medicines. If he is able to still maintian his customary way of living thean the court will more than likly state that entering sweepstakes may seem frivilous but it his money to do with what he wants.