The Neglectful Agent

By Rick Law, estate planning elder law attorney and senior advocate of the estate planning center at Law Elder Law in West Suburban Aurora, Illinois.

A charitable group contacted a professional care manager about an elderly immigrant with Alzheimer’s disease who needed help because the woman’s agents under her powers of attorney were not acting on her behalf.

The woman did not have adequate food and was literally starving. She was giving all of her money away to her neighbors. She had a caregiver, but the caregiver was an alcoholic who kept taking the woman to the emergency room to get Tylenol with codeine and taking it all herself.

The woman had congestive heart failure that was not being treated. She had pain that was not being treated. She had oxygen tanks, but they were all empty. The powers of attorney would not help her. They were located two states away and would not provide any service for her because they thought she was fine.

The care managers were able to be named temporary guardians and were able to provide caregivers. Fortunately, the care managers were able to inform the woman’s family. The family finally realized that if they did not step up to the plate and do the job, somebody else would and they would lose control.

One of the family members actually moved in with the woman and became her caregiver. The elderly woman was able to stay in her own home with care, and the care managers turned the guardianship over to the family with court supervision.

This is an example of excellent work by a lawyer who knows the system, and who knows the preference of the court to have family manage things. But if the family is not doing a good job, then they start getting supervised by the court because the courts are going to protect the person with disabilities.

That’s the role of a good guardianship lawyer. You may need someone who is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the ward. Once the guardianship process is in place, the least restricted environment principle needs to apply, but sometimes it takes an iron fist to ensure the family does a good job.

In some cases, a temporary guardianship may be available to authorize limited substitute decision making, where necessary for the immediate protection of the “alleged disabled individual”.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

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