Abusive Conservatorships | Changes in Law Ahead?
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We work at being one of California’s leading law firms in estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation.
This aspiration is fueled in part by a collective quest for justice, tolerance, and fair play. Fair play means the equal and honest treatment of others. Adherence to fair play helps to ensure fundamental freedoms, family dignities, and historic rights.
When fair play is discounted, unnoticed, or ignored, people suffer. The discovery of wrongdoing can have far-reaching consequences. The terms of public argument can change. We are now seeing this in California with regard to abusive conservatorships.
The #FreeBritney movement, coupled with the Netflix movie, “I Care a Lot,” have weakened public confidence in California’s existing Guardianship-Conservatorship Law. There is growing consensus that the law needs to be modified to provide greater protection to conservatees and their families. The Legislature is listening, identifying protective measures, and acting.
AB 1194, as amended, illustrates several legislative concerns. I’ll identify some of these and AB 1194’s proposed amendments.
Professional Fiduciary Fees
It can be very difficult for families to predict professional fiduciary conservatorship administration fees. The proposed law provides that professional fiduciaries with an internet website will be required to post a schedule of fees.
Revocation of a Professional Fiduciary’s License
California has over 1,000 active, licensed professional fiduciaries. The Professional Fiduciaries Bureau would be required to revoke a professional fiduciary’s license if the licensee is found by the court to have either abused or breached a fiduciary duty to a conservatee under their care. Revocation or surrender of licenses are relatively rare. The change might accelerate the license revocation of wrongdoing fiduciaries.
Current law does not strictly require medical information to establish a conservatorship. AB 1194 would require that court investigators gather and review relevant medical reports regarding a proposed conservatee, including at least one report from their primary care physician.
The bill would require court investigators who have undertaken an investigation of a fiduciary to report the investigation to the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau.
Petition for Court Investigations
“Any person may petition the court to investigate an allegation of abuse … of a conservatee by a conservator. The court shall investigate all such allegations of abuse.”
No Professional Fiduciary Compensation for Unsuccessful Defense of Petition or Other Action Made by or on Behalf of a Conservatee
This change would make a major contribution to bringing an end to a Conservator’s malevolent art of impairing, imperiling, and intruding upon a Conservatee’s financial assets while defending against the Conservator’s own wrongful conduct.
The dangers are not diminishing from abusive conservatorships. California’s 65-plus population is increasing. Our laws need to keep pace with changing demographics, financial markets, and technology. AB 1194 is certainly a step in the right direction.
Hackard Law often works to bring abusive private, professional, and institutional fiduciaries to account. If you’d like to speak with us about your case call us at 916 313-3030. We’ll be happy to hear from you.
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