Public Guardian to Expand Powers to Seize Assets

Dees Illustration

Janet Phelan

AB 1288, which  is now in front of the California Legislature, would expand the timeframe in which the Public Guardian’s office could take control of an elder’s assets, prior to filing for conservatorship over that individual.
Now hold on a minute. Does this bill actually state that the Public Guardian can come in and take over assets without a guardianship being in place? How in the world can that be allowed?
Well, the law authorizing this is already on the books, as Probate Code 2900, which allows the PG to seize assets based on “intent” to file for guardianship.

AB 1288 would just give the Public Guardian a bit more time to hit the bank.  As written into law, PC  2900 allows the PG’s office fifteen days to mosey over to the savings and loan and take all of Grandma’s hard earned cash, based on “intent” and without an official determination of incapacity by any court of law. AB 1288 would give the PG an extra chunk of time to do exactly the same thing and would include the option to kick out family or friends living with the proposed conservatee.

And, most tellingly, without even telling Grandma. The only notice that needs to be given  to the prospective ward is if the assets are in a Trust. Sans that document, the PG can simply drive up to the bank, grab Granny’s dinero and take off like a bandit, and Granny isn’t even entitled to be told what hit her.
According to Assemblyman Rich Gordon’s office (Gordon is the author of 1288), this is only to protect the elder’s assets from “injury or loss.”  In an email on August 4, Gordon aide Margot Grant wrote:
AB 1288 would provide that if the public guardian or public conservator determines that the requirements for appointment of a guardian or conservator of the estate are satisfied, and the public guardian or public conservator intends to apply for appointment as the public guardian or public conservator only if the real or personal property held in the trust is subject to loss, injury, waste, or misappropriation.
We can only assume that the folks in Sacramento are living in a bubble and haven’t gotten the skinny from Southern California yet. According to an aide in a Riverside County Supervisor’s office, who spoke under conditions of anonymity, “The Public Guardian’s office has been looting estates for years. That is old news.”
AB 1288 will be coming up for a vote shortly. It is only a matter of time before the hazy shroud of “intent” is lifted and the free-for-all begins in earnest. I can foresee the day when turning sixty five will occasion an official “launch” party, as the birthday senior will make a run for the border. Getting out of dodge before one officially enters one’s “golden years”  may turn into a race for the safety and security of a country which does not regard its elders as cash cows. 
Mexico  is looking  better all the time….

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.  You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at

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