RENO, NV – Private guardianships will soon be coming under the scrutiny of the state. Private guardians are court-appointed, and occur when a person–typically elderly–can no longer take care of their affairs.
However, over the last couple years, courts in Clark County and in Washoe County, have witnessed abuses by some private guardians. Lawmakers passed a bill signed by the governor that will force these private guardians to get licensed by the state.
Professional private guardian Stan Brokl shows us where he keeps track of his ward’s estates. Bank statements, medical bills, assets, all are monitored on his computer. There are five other computers by the way in the other room, as a backup.
He got into the business 12 years ago, when his son, a veteran, became unable to manage his own affairs. From there Stan turned his experience and knowledge into a private guardianship business.
Often he is assigned a ward when guardianship has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
“A son and daughter who were taking all of this money and leaving him alone in his room by himself most of the time and not really feeding him, or doing the right thing,” says Stan Brokl, owner of Adult Guardian & Management Services.
While that case was originally assigned to family members, there are instances where a court-appointed guardian has taken advantage of a ward.
In Washoe County in 2007 a private guardian named Angela Dottei was sentenced to prison for using her ward’s money to gamble, and according to a grand jury indictment, she failed to alert the authorities that her ward had died, yet she continued to spend the estate’s money.
Such cases are the reason for Assembly Bill 325. Among other things it requires licensing of private guardians who oversee three or more wards. Background checks are required, as well as evaluation of business plans.
“You hear the word transparency a lot these days and that’s one of the things I found in the research for the legislation that really didn’t exist. So now with the legislation that has been signed into law, we are going to have a lot more of that transparency. Certainly we are going to have a lot more oversight to dig in when something raises a red flag and doesn’t seem right,” says Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle, author of AB325.
Brokl will not be impacted by the new regulations as he plans on retiring at the end of 2015.
While he says the bill is a good first step in cleaning up the industry, he says more needs to be done, like further staffing of courts that are not only assigning private guardians but overseeing the work.
“Courts need more help too,” says Brokl.
Nevada State Business and Industry Chief George Burns says while his division has been tasked with the licensure of private guardians, they were not given additional staff to implement AB325.
A formal workshop needs to be scheduled for mid-December, and regulations need to be confirmed by the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
That means they won’t meet the January 1st deadline.