In the early 2000's I represented an only child in a guardianship case. He had
a colorful history as both a drag queen in San Francisco and a piano player for a big band. In contrast, his father lived a quiet, unassuming life thousands of miles away in a Florida mobile home park with an old Buick as transportation.
Naturally, the son assumed that his father had no money. A caretaker four decades younger than the father discovered that wasn't so. Lo and behold, he was worth one million dollars! The father had continuously invested in General Electric stock throughout his retirement, while obviously spending very little.
One day the caretaker brought the father to an attorney's office, claimed that he (the father) was her husband, and that he wanted to leave everything to her. But the attorney was suspicious, first seeing the age disparity and noticing that she was doing all the talking. The lawyer then asked her to leave the room so he could speak to her "husband" alone since he was the client.
Attorney: "How do you feel about leaving everything to her, your wife?"
Client: "My wife? She's dead!"
Attorney: "The lady you are with, she says she is your wife."
Client: "I don't know who she is but she sure is nice, isn't she?"
The lawyer immediately realized his client was incompetent and successfully arranged for a professional guardian to be appointed. The professional guardian secured the assets, stopping the caretaker in her tracks.
The older man passed away a few months later. His health had been failing, and when you start to fail, you weaken and can develop dementia. That's when the vultures swoop in. It's also when the guardians can enter the picture and set things straight.
This case is a prime example of that. If not for the guardian, the caretaker would have gotten everything because the son thought his father was penniless. The son never would have known what happened. If the caretaker had told him that his father died and was penniless, the son would have believed it and never questioned it. After all, his father lived like a pauper, not a millionaire.