How can I get guardianship for a friend to prevent abuse?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 09, 2016
Janeco asked...

My friend has bipolar disorder and a little bit of schizophrenia. When she is on medication, she is okay. I believe that after four years of being held in a ward and then a housing setup, she is being held because she gets disability money and everyone, meaning the guardian and the housing people, are getting a nice piece of it. She needs to get out and live her life and be with her kids. There are people wandering the streets in worse shape than her. I think she is being held so they can keep her money. How do I get guardianship for her being in the next state over? I will surely let her out freely. I can't take her being in the system anymore. Too many people like to play GOD.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

It sounds as if someone is currently legally charged with caring for your friend—as what is called either a guardian or conservator.

If you think that person is not doing a good job, you can go to court and ask to have him or her removed. But you should know that most courts will require some good hard evidence before they will make a change—more than your hunch. If you want to make this challenge, you will realistically need some proof, for example, that the person currently caring for your friend is misusing the money that’s supposed to go to her care or is neglecting or abusing her in some way.

Every court has its own procedures for how to challenge guardianships or conservatorships. The good thing is that many of them now give out a lot of free information about what is required and some even have folks on staff to help with the procedures.

To find out more specifically what would be required for you and what help might be available, contact your local probate court. You should be able to find it online by searching for “probate” plus the name of your city or county.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Who will help her stay on her meds if you get her out? Will she live with family or friends? I'm all for people having as much freedom as possible, but if I were in the judge reviewing this case my big concern would be that once she was unsupervised she'd stop taking her meds and end up back in the ward. If you are really serious about this maybe you can talk to whatever health professional she is seeing about her meds. They shouldn't be motivated by money, since they get paid for her care whether she's confined or not (and she WILL still need to be seen).