The Oak Lawn guardianship litigation attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are committed to protecting the rights of dependents who rely on legal guardians for their care. When a guardian is responsible for negligent or abusive behavior, our dedicated lawyers will stop at nothing to pursue justice.
Legal guardianship involves several complex and important responsibilities aimed at protecting the physical, psychological, and financial health of a person who cannot make decisions for themselves. If you suspect your loved one has been failed by their appointed guardian, the attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are prepared to take decisive legal action on their behalf.
Call us today at (855) 328-5787 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about our guardianship litigation services in a free initial consultation.
Types of Guardianship Litigation Cases We Handle
At Peck Ritchey, LLC, our Oak Lawn guardianship litigation attorneys are prepared to handle cases involving the following types of guardian negligence or abuse:
- Breach of fiduciary duty – Breach of fiduciary duty may occur when a guardian responsible for acting in the best interests of your loved one fails to do so, particularly with regard to their assets.
- Discovery or recovery of assets – If you suspect a guardian has been concealing, embezzling, or stealing assets from a ward, we can file a citation for the discovery or recovery of those assets.
- Elder abuse – Elder abuse is a heinous crime that can occur when a guardian neglects an adult ward or causes them physical, emotional, or financial harm.
- Financial exploitation – Financial exploitation may occur when a guardian misuses or wrongfully takes money or other assets from their ward’s estate.
- Removal of guardianship or other authority – If a guardian, executor, trustee, or other legally appointed agent proves unfit, we can file the necessary proceedings to have them removed from their duties.
- Validation of powers of attorney – If any disputes arise among guardians, executors, or other appointed agents, we can define and validate the limits of the authority held by each party.
Signs of Elder Abuse
When an immoral individual obtains legal guardianship over a senior adult, they may perpetrate various types of unthinkable elder abuse. Common signs of different types of elder abuse include:
- Signs of physical abuse – Unexplained bruises, burns, fractures, dislocations, or other injuries; sudden hair loss; broken glasses or hearing aids; and sudden fearfulness or other changes in behavior.
- Signs of neglect – A messy or unclean appearance; soiled clothing or linens; unkempt hair; bedsores or skin rashes; unexplained dehydration, malnutrition, or weight loss; and unusual withdrawal from friends and family.
- Signs of social abuse – Isolation from friends and family; new limitations on contact with loved ones; controlling or monitoring of conversations by the guardian; withholding of mail; and unusual conversation topics or tones.
- Signs of emotional abuse – Unexplained changes in weight; sudden fearfulness around guardians; sudden anxiety, nervousness, or depression; difficulty sleeping; and unusual rocking or mumbling behavior.
- Signs of sexual abuse – Torn or bloody underwear or other clothing; unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or infections (STIs); and bruising or bleeding around the breasts, genitals, or anus.
Signs of Breach of Fiduciary Duty or Financial Exploitation
A fiduciary duty exists to ensure that a guardian or other individual who manages someone else’s money does so with the best interests of the other person in mind. Signs of a breach of fiduciary duty by a guardian may include:
- The sale of assets from the ward’s estate without court approval
- Unexplained omissions or serious errors in accounting
- The failure to follow directions contained in the ward’s trust
- The personal use of the ward’s estate or trust assets by the guardian
Financial exploitation is another unfortunately common type of abuse. Signs of possible financial exploitation may look like:
- Unexplained or unusually large withdrawals from the ward’s bank accounts
- Missing or altered legal or financial documents or statements
- Missing valuables such as jewelry, artwork, or antiques
- Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or utilities being shut off
- Signatures that appear unusual or forged
- The sudden or unexplained transfer or sale of the ward’s property or assets
- Unusually high charges for medical care or other services
What to Do If You Notice Signs of Abuse or Exploitation
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or exploited by a guardian or any other individual with control over their affairs, don’t hesitate to act. You can protect the person you love and ensure they get the care they deserve by:
- Reaching out to your local authorities. If you believe your loved one may be in any immediate danger, call 9-1-1. The police can help you remove them from harm and ensure they get any medical care they need.
- Speaking to their guardian directly. If the person is not in any immediate danger, you may try raising your concerns with their guardian directly. A caring guardian should have no problem listening to you and correcting simple issues as needed.
- Documenting as much evidence as possible. If the guardian does not address your concerns satisfactorily, it’s a good idea to start gathering evidence. Write down anything suspicious you have noticed, take photographs of possible signs of abuse or exploitation, and make copies of questionable documents.
- Speaking with medical or financial experts. Doctors, accountants, and other medical or financial experts can review your loved one’s situation impartially to determine whether abuse or exploitation may have occurred.
How a Guardianship Litigation Attorney Can Help
Guardianship is a serious legal responsibility, and the surrounding standards and procedures can be quite complex. If you know or suspect your loved one’s rights or best interests may be in jeopardy, a guardianship litigation attorney can help by:
- Filing petitions for change or removal of guardianship
- Filing cross-petitions on behalf of others who wish to serve as guardians
- Representing and counseling you during guardianship hearings
- Taking legal action against guardians who are acting inappropriately
- Seeking orders of protection or citations against abusive guardians
- Investigating suspicious financial activities of appointed guardians
Contact an Oak Lawn Guardianship Litigation Lawyer Today
The Oak Lawn guardianship litigation lawyers of Peck Ritchey, LLC have zero tolerance for abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elders, minors, and other vulnerable persons. If you believe your loved one may have been subjected to neglect or abuse at the hands of their guardian, call us at (855) 328-5787 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options in a free initial case review.