Many of John Oliver’s monologues on Last Week Tonight are aimed at younger viewers; the elderly, as Oliver jokes in Sunday’s episode, are instead seen as “the people who stay active by playing shuffleboard, going on walks, or performing their hit song ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ in packed arenas around the world.” But the newest edition of Last Week Tonight focuses on an issue near and dear to the interests of senior citizens — guardianships, and the ease with which guardians can fleece their clients for money and assets.
Oliver looked at the specific case of Rudy and Rennie North, an elderly couple from Las Vegas who one day found “officers of the court” at their door mandating that they relinquish control over their finances to a “guardian” they had never met before, authorized by a judge they had also never met before. Within two years, Rudy said, their money and assets had been totally stripped from them. As one judge put it, someone who enters a guardianship “loses more rights than someone who goes to prison.”
Empowered with massive control over their clients’ finances, some guardians use that power to bill their clients massively for each little task. In one case highlighted by Oliver, after an elderly woman accompanied her guardian to a Phoenix Suns basketball game, she was hit with a bill for over $1,000 — including a $228 charge so the guardian could “determine the effect on her mood.” Then there’s April Parks, the guardian for Rudy and Rennie North. When called out for some of her more ridiculous bills (including charging Rennie $108 for a pair of stretch pants) Parks said she would reverse the charges.
“You can’t just do a bunch of s—-y things and then say ‘I’ll reverse it.’ This is someone’s life, not a f—ing Missy Elliott song,” Oliver said. “Although, in fairness, you probably do need good stretch pants if you’re going to put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it.”
In order to explain what legal steps can be taken to protect people from similar fates, Oliver assembled an all-star team of celebrities: William Shatner, Rita Moreno, Fred Willard, Cloris Leachman, and Lily Tomlin. Though they couldn’t help bragging about their superior skin care and freaking out about the dangers of hippos, the celebrities did give some useful advice about selecting a trustworthy guardian.
“You should make sure that that’s someone you know, and not some random person you’ve never met who just wants to spend all your money on f—ing stretch pants,” Moreno said.
“That’s why it’s important to select someone to serve as your health care representative,” Willard said. “Name people you trust.”
In other words: Just make Tom Hanks your guardian! And also look out for hippos, or something.
Watch the full clip above.