No-one likes the idea of getting old and feeble and progressively losing the ability to look after yourself, but in the end it happens to nearly everyone. Here in Nevada, it’s quite possible for an elderly person to need caring for, yet they have no immediate family to do so and are dependent on a Guardian.
The Guardianship process has been under the spotlight recently as there have been many anecdotal accounts of Guardians that have exploited the very people they are supposed to be representing. The Nevada state government has recently enacted legislation that tightens up the Guardianship role hopefully meaning that there is less likelihood of unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of their role.
Who chooses the guardian?
Family members and friends who discover that an elderly relative who has been living in Southern Nevada has had a Guardian appointed without them knowing about it may be justifiably wondering who let the Guardian be selected. Generally, the state’s Guardianship Court is the agency that makes a decision about appointing a Guardian.
The Guardianship Judge is employed in the Guardianship court to make decisions about a suitable guardian. When appointed, the Guardian is meant to be able to make important decisions about the elderly person’s finances, their state of health and whether they should seek medical treatment,
Guardians and pay
One of the concerns that has been raised n Nevada is about how much appointed Guardians are allowed to be paid. There has been indication that some have abused their position and have been paid too much, abusing the trust that a vulnerable, elderly person has in them.
The Guardianship Court sets how much the Guardian is paid and then this decision is overseen by the Guardianship judge. That means that ultimately the Guardianship judge should ensure that the Guardian is not paid too much.
Guardians and estate plans
Another concern that has been raised in Nevada is whether Guardians can set up an estate plan and whether once an estate plan has been set up whether a Guardian has the power to change it.
Guardians are able to petition the court and arrange for a will to be set up if there is not one in place already. Typically, this would be the sort of will that might be decided if the person had had no will at death. Guardians are also able to create an irrevocable living trust for the person under guardianship.
The Guardian cannot change a will that has already been in place and may have been an arrangement between the elderly person and his or her relatives.
All these steps must be approved by the Guardianship Court.
Guardians can be appointed by the Court on a temporary basis if there is a need for one, usually when there are no immediate relatives living nearby. There is no need to ask or inform the relatives that such a Guardian is being appointed until the process has been completed and then there is an obligation for relatives to be told. The Guardian is only temporary and it may be that relatives decide in due course to take over the Guardianship role themselves.
Laws have been passed this year (2017) in Nevada which tighten up the Guardianship role and make it a criminal offense to misuse the position of Guardian. It is hoped that this new legislation will put a stop to some of the exploitation that has been uncovered in Clark County and elsewhere in Nevada.
If you have any concerns about an elderly relative in Las Vegas, Nevada or concerns about the Guardianship process, talk to one of our guardianship attorneys at Pintar Albiston here in Las Vegas. You can make an appointment with the law firm of Pintar Albiston by ringing 702-685-5366.
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