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Woman accused of mishandling professional guardianships

Many people in Massachusetts have concerns regarding how to handle their end-of-life care. Some may not be able to rely on their families, particularly if they live far away or if they do not have a relationship with them. Some may choose to rely on a professional guardian for medical and financial decisions. While that can be a wonderful choice for many, there are those who do not have a positive experience with guardianships. One out-of-state case involves a woman accused of fraud surrounding several guardianships she claimed to be handling.

The problem came to the attention of the legal system when a man died after she allegedly filed a "do not resuscitate" order without his family's permission. Investigators found that she had 450 guardianships at the time of the man's death. They say that she billed a local medical system for almost $4 million over a decade despite less than a third of her clients being part of the state guardianship system. Investigators also found instances where they say the woman double-billed the medical system, or even billings for cases that weren't hers.

The woman stands accused of filing other DNR orders for clients that do not have court supervision. The entire matter prompted the governor of the state to demand an investigation into the state guardianship program. One official at the state Office of Public and Private Guardians has already resigned.

Though this case may seem frightening, it underscores just how important it is that people have comprehensive estate plans in place, including provisions for end-of-life care. Having a professional guardian may be the best choice for some people. An attorney with experience in estate planning and guardianships can advise Massachusetts families of available legal options to ease their minds.

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