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Guardianships and elder abuse in Pennsylvania

People in Pennsylvania who have elderly relatives requiring professional care know how important it is to find the right persons or facilities that they feel can provide safe and quality care. For some people, there are no relatives able to help with this process or to provide the care themselves. In these situations, a third party may be required to be named as a guardian. The guardian may be a family member as well. Details on establishing guardianships have been previously discussed.

Regardless of the care situation for an elderly person, the concern that the ward may become subject to a form of elder abuse exists. The Erie County Bar Association's Orphans' Court Committee indicates that a person may be named as the guardian of an estate or the guardian of a person. In either situation, there is the potential for abuse. When acting as the guardian of an estate, a person has access to the ward's financial information and assets. This opens the door for financial exploitation to occur.

When acting as the guardian of a person, a guardian is responsible for the day-to-day care of the ward. This means they must not allow the ward to be neglected or abused nor must they perpetrate any neglect or abuse personally.

The Reading Eagle reported on some concerns in the state that the current laws regarding the investigation of elder abuse cases may be in need of review and updates as they have been in place since 1987. Some believe the number of days allowed to complete an elder abuse investigation should be changed. More information will appear in future blogs concerning this topic.

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