It’s a gloomy day in the city as cold raindrops splatter and heavy breezes push people in every direction. An elderly man’s face is wet and his gray hair is messy after a slow walk from his car to the bank. Finally, he makes his way to the bank teller and tells her that he is trying to wire a significant amount of money to an underdeveloped country. Having seen this scam too many times, the teller makes an anonymous call to Adult Protective Services and reports her concern for the elderly man’s well being.

The current rise in Alzheimer’s disease, elderly Americans, and fast-paced technology is brewing the perfect storm for more and more elderly Americans to be scammed and/or abused. The Alzheimer’s Association recently reported that there are an estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s type dementia. Due to the increasing number of people over age 65, the number of Alzheimer’s cases in America is expected to soar in the coming years. And unfortunately, the above scenario depicted is not fictitious, nor is it an isolated incident.

Guardianship and Conservatorship Petitions

If you know or suspect that a loved one is no longer able to make the best decisions for themselves, you can petition the court to appoint a guardian and/or conservator over your loved one. Depending on what issues he or she is experiencing, you can petition for either a guardianship or conservatorship, or both.

When to petition for Guardianship

While it is common to think of a guardianship as only applicable to minors, it is often necessary for an adult to need a guardian. An adult guardianship is often needed when the person is no longer able to make healthy, rational decisions regarding their medical care, living conditions, and overall wellbeing.

Once the court appoints a guardian, the guardian must file annual reports that update the court on the condition of their loved one (called a ward).

When to petition for Conservatorship

Conservators are appointed when someone is unable to effectively manage their financial affairs or property. An adult conservator is typically needed when someone is mismanaging or wasting their property, or if an incapacitated person needs funding for their care.

A conservator is responsible for tasks like paying bills, investing money, caring for the ward’s assets, and protecting the ward from financial harm or scams, much like the scenario at the beginning of this blog!

Who Are Guardians and Conservators?

Depending on the ward’s situation and necessary care, one person may be appointed as both guardian and conservator. However, if a significant amount of both personal care and financial management is needed, the court may want to appoint one person as guardian and a different person as conservator. These people are typically relatives, friends, or close associates.

I Know Someone

While some people personally know the individual that they are concerned for, others may be tipped off simply by a passing interaction. As illustrated in the opening scenario, you may just come across someone who appears to be making an odd or irrational decision that puts them at risk for financial, physical, or emotional harm. Perhaps it is your elderly neighbor who lives alone. Or someone you encounter that appears lost. Whether you know the at-risk person well or not, there is something you can do.

If you believe someone you love is in need of a guardian or conservator, please contact us at or 248-399-3300 for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experts in determining what type of care your loved one needs, and how you can meet their needs through guardianships and/or conservatorships.

If you meet someone you believe is being abused, neglected, or is not able to effectively care for themselves physically or financially, you can also call Adult Protective Services (APS) of Michigan at 855-444-3911 to make an anonymous report. Once reported, APS staff will investigate the claims within 24 hours.

The Longest Day

Alzheimer’s is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, yet there is no cure. In an attempt to show unity and raise funds for everyone affected by this deadly disease, including patients, caregivers, and family members, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts a nation-wide event called The Longest Day.

On June 21, the summer solstice, people around the nation turn their favorite activities into fundraisers. Pictures, stories, and fundraising success is splashed across social media using #TheLongestDay and #ENDALZ. Click HERE to learn more about fundraising to end Alzheimer’s and some creative activities that you and your friends can enjoy on The Longest Day!