U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Detecting Exploitation by Conservators: Systemic Approach

NCJ Number
Brenda Uekert; Kathryn Holt; Kathryn Genthon; Erica Wood; Lori Stiegel; Dari Pogach; Pamela Teaster; Karen Roberto; Stepheni Hubert; Cate Boyko
Date Published
6 pages

This fourth in a series of eight Background Briefs on conservator exploitation, which is funded by the U.S. Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and produced by the National Center for State Courts, discusses how courts can collaborate with involved stakeholders in adopting a systemic approach to the detection of conservator exploitation.


Courts can increase the detection of conservator exploitation by facilitating communications from other stakeholders. These stakeholders include family members of potential victims, persons having care and custody of the individual, and existing surrogates such as agents under a power of attorney or advance directive. Under many state laws and court rules, these parties may receive or request the right to receive court documents in the case. In addition, public access to court conservatorship documents can improve accountability and counter a perception of secrecy under which exploitation might flourish. Reviewers external to the court can also have a role in monitoring conservator accountings and report any problems to the court. At least two state statutes designate attorneys to examine conservator accountings and report any problems to the court. Another means of monitoring conservator accountability is through professional certification, licensing, and disciplinary boards. Human service agencies can also monitor conservator practices to detect exploitation; for example, adult protective services agencies can investigate reports of suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This Brief identifies other ways of monitoring whether a court is receptive and responsive to detecting exploitation; and it emphasizes the provision of judicial, legal, and professional training in detecting conservator exploitation. Each suggestion for improving a systemic approach to detecting conservator exploitation is accompanied by a discussion of related laws and regulations, as well as the general status of the implementation of the recommended practice across U.S. jurisdictions.