Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

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tc101
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Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:01 am

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights.
Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it.

Read this story from the Oct. 9 issue of the New Yorker. This seems like something really dangerous that could happen to anyone as they age.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017 ... eir-rights
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by onthecusp » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:35 am

That is horrible, what leeches! Apparently "guardianship" companies can petition a court and get complete control with very little if any due process.

I didn't see any advice in that article on how to prevent this kind of thing. I suppose it might involve locking assets away in trusts and getting your desired eventual guardians set up with legal responsibilities.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:39 am

I didn't see any advice in that article on how to prevent this kind of thing. I suppose it might involve locking assets away in trusts and getting your desired eventual guardians set up with legal responsibilities.
I think that article is going to get a lot of attention. It sure got my attention. I am 67 and comfortably retired. I see this is one of the biggest threats to my future financial security.

The story just came out yesterday. I hope in the next few weeks we see lots of discussions of solutions.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by cu_ » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:57 am

Its too long, written like a novel. Hope I can find a synopsis somewhere. I want to know about this... but don't have time to read the entire story. What is the gist of this?

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:09 am

cu_ wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:57 am
Its too long, written like a novel. Hope I can find a synopsis somewhere. I want to know about this... but don't have time to read the entire story. What is the gist of this?
Well, I mean, it's the New Yorker. That's what they do.

The New Yorker is known for serious (long-form) journalism. They are not totally reliable (I seem to remember articles about vaccination and EM fields causing cancer).

But...this is very concerning. I scanned the article and actually it appears that OP's title is a bit overactive, as it seems that the particular abuse described has been reined in to a degree.

The way I understood it...particularly in localities with favorable laws and acquiescent judges...there can be serious abuse of guardianship laws.

OP- maybe edit the title to make it look less like one of those ads at the bottom of pages?

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:11 am

Its too long, written like a novel. Hope I can find a synopsis somewhere. I want to know about this... but don't have time to read the entire story. What is the gist of this?
It is pretty easy to take a short course and get a license to be a state appointed guardian to older people who are ruled incompetent by a court. Once you are the state appointed guardian of an older person you can move them to an assisted living situation and gradually drain all their assets.

All it takes is a short note from a doctor or physicians assistant to get someone ruled incompetent by the court. The people who make a living as guardians cultivate relationships with doctors and judges involved in this process. Once the victim is in assisted living the guardian can get them to see doctors who prescribe drugs that cause them to be confused and docile.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by prudent » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:12 am

I attempted to make the title more descriptive.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:14 am

OP- maybe edit the title to make it look less like one of those ads at the bottom of pages?
That might be a good idea. How do you edit a title? Could you suggest a title?
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:15 am

I see one of the hosts edited the title. I think that is better.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:16 am

:shock:

OMG!

Is it really possible that this is "as described", in general, rather than a rare oddball case that slipped through the cracks (which also isn't okay)?
This was happening even when there were relatives who tried to intervene (or correct the situation)??

The way "the system" "worked" here is... <words fail me>.

And yes, "scam" wasn't the correct word, where someone is tricked into something due to lack of care or understanding, etc.
This apparently was done through the legal system!
:confused

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by mouses » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:18 am

That's terrifying. I wish the New York Times would pick this up. When they run articles like this, Congress seems prompt to do something. What is particularly scary is that the children are in contact with the parents and yet helpless to stop these people from taking over their lives and assets.

As to the synopsis, it helps to have crooked judges, crooked doctors, etc. but probably mostly crooked judges. It does sound like this is widespread and hidden in states where records are sealed.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:24 am

I scanned the article and actually it appears that OP's title is a bit overactive, as it seems that the particular abuse described has been reined in to a degree.
That is not how I read it. The guardian in the story was indicted, probably because she was so blatant, but smother operators will continue to operate. All the laws about this are at the state level, so even if one state cleans things up that won't help people in other states. There is so much money to be made from this that it will probably continue and may grow. It might be done on a more sophisticated level by big companies with professional lobbyists who will keep the laws favorable to the professional guardians.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:26 am

As to the synopsis, it helps to have crooked judges, crooked doctors, etc. but probably mostly crooked judges.
They don't really need to be crooked. Just lazy, or overworked and easily persuaded.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by fposte » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:29 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:09 am

But...this is very concerning. I scanned the article and actually it appears that OP's title is a bit overactive, as it seems that the particular abuse described has been reined in to a degree.
It sounded more to me like one bad actor got caught and one state may be enacting legislation to limit the problem for those elderly who can find a sympathetic lawyer (which sounds like a Herculean task given the state some of these people were put in), but that it hasn't been dealt with in any broader way.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by J295 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:38 am

Another reason to have a strong power of attorney in place.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by fittan » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:43 am

Another video. This one shows interviews with Rudy North and his daughter Julie Belshe.

http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/court-a ... /690017842

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by PaddyMac » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:44 am

Living in New Mexico now, this is a huge issue here following an award-winning series by The Albuquerque Journal. The State is now legislating. Some heart breaking stories were covered that would make your blood boil.

https://www.abqjournal.com/898385/who-g ... imond.html

In addition, one of the guardianship companies was seized by marshals because the money in their care was embezzled for personal enrichment by the owners. It doesn't get much worse than this case, as some clients need on-going medical bills paid:
https://www.abqjournal.com/1035480/guar ... shals.html
Last edited by PaddyMac on Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by bsteiner » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:48 am

mouses wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:18 am
That's terrifying. I wish the New York Times would pick this up. ...
There have been stories in the Times on this. For example, this one: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/03/nyreg ... .html?_r=0.

There are two things that will reduce the risk of this. One is to give someone a power of attorney. While (as discussed here and elsewhere many times), powers of attorneys aren't perfect, they usually work reasonably well. The other is for the family to cooperate.

If you don't have any family, or any appropriate individuals, and you want to name a bank, you'll have to create a revocable trust, since banks prefer to act as trustee than as agent under a power of attorney.

I had a recent case where the two children didn't talk to each other. One had a power of attorney, but the other contested it. The court appointed a nonprofit agency as guardian. After the mother died, the children (through separate counsel) brought claims against the guardian. The guardian didn't steal any money, but nevertheless incurred fees and expenses that wouldn't have been incurred if the children would have cooperated. The court rejected the children's claims.

Of course, you have to be careful as to whom you give a power of attorney. I once had a case where someone gave a power of attorney to an employee, who misappropriated assets. We were able to recover some but not all of the assets.

Note that many if not most states have more protections in their guardianship system than Nevada. For example, in New York, the court appoints an independent court evaluator who meets with the alleged incapacitated person (AIP) and reports to the court. In some states a doctor's report is needed. In some states, reports from two doctors are needed. In one case, in New York a former household employee brought a guardianship petition against a client, and we were able to defeat it.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by onthecusp » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:12 am

J295 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:38 am
Another reason to have a strong power of attorney in place.
I would like to discuss how a power of attorney would remedy this issue.
A trusted relative with greater mental acuity had POA they might be able to fight this more effectively, but the subjects of the attack were unable to stop the proceedings.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:18 am

Another reason to have a strong power of attorney in place.
I have the same question as the last poster. Does power of attorney override legal guardianship? How exactly would this work?
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:24 am

onthecusp wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:12 am
J295 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:38 am
Another reason to have a strong power of attorney in place.
I would like to discuss how a power of attorney would remedy this issue.
A trusted relative with greater mental acuity had POA they might be able to fight this more effectively, but the subjects of the attack were unable to stop the proceedings.
Along these lines, would a PoA (even a Durable/Springing PoA) be sufficient to stop this, even if the PoA was actually recognized (albeit rather doubtful in the specific situations described in article).

Someone may have a valid DPoA in place, but still not be able to function well. Wouldn't a guardianship be needed anyway, in addition to the DPoA if there were questions about one's ability to properly care for ones' self... if someone felt assisted or nursing care was required, for example?
If so, then... Enter stage left... You Friendly Local Guardian...

Too many governmental/legal layers seem to have been in cahoots here, or at the least, some were asleep at the wheel (still inexcusable). In a situation like this, what's to stop this perpetual motion machine once they've got you in their sights?

The more I think about this - or at least, "how it appears from the article" - the more outraged I get.
Not to mention just a hint of fear... just a hint, but...

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by fposte » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:25 am

onthecusp wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:12 am
J295 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:38 am
Another reason to have a strong power of attorney in place.
I would like to discuss how a power of attorney would remedy this issue.
A trusted relative with greater mental acuity had POA they might be able to fight this more effectively, but the subjects of the attack were unable to stop the proceedings.
Agreed. The Albuquerque Journal article says, "Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other carefully compiled legal documents reviewed by the Journal were, in effect, overridden by the for-profit guardians and conservators, according to family members."

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by verbose » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:54 am

This article is terrifying. I had no idea this problem existed but have been googling now and found plenty of corroborating articles, plus sites that show one how to become a “professional guardian.”

I’m only middle-aged so what scares me most is the fate of my parents and in-laws. They are all over 70 and still fully independent despite some health issues. My mother-in-law is very active in volunteering. My parents are still caregivers for my elderly grandmother, who is completely incompetent by anyone’s measure. My father has POA but no one is her guardian. It’s hard to view my parents as being elderly when they are all still functional adults.

It terrifies me to think that someone might try to do this to my father, in particular. Dad has been taken against his will once before, drafted to Vietnam. Although he served with honor and did as he was ordered, he’s quite vehement that no one will ever be telling him where to go and what to do ever again. Dad is a big man and very strong, even now. I can’t imagine the police trying to take him—the results would be tragic. His family already knows that we will have a terrible time if he ever develops dementia, but he loves us and trusts us and if that ever comes to pass we’ll do what has to be done.

Well, who knows. Maybe the “guardians” don’t target elderly people who are obviously going to be difficult.

What can adult children of currently independent seniors do to prevent this or intervene?

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:11 pm

verbose wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:54 am
This article is terrifying. I had no idea this problem existed but have been googling now and found plenty of corroborating articles, plus sites that show one how to become a “professional guardian.”

I’m only middle-aged so what scares me most is the fate of my parents and in-laws. They are all over 70 and still fully independent despite some health issues. My mother-in-law is very active in volunteering. My parents are still caregivers for my elderly grandmother, who is completely incompetent by anyone’s measure. My father has POA but no one is her guardian. It’s hard to view my parents as being elderly when they are all still functional adults.

It terrifies me to think that someone might try to do this to my father, in particular. Dad has been taken against his will once before, drafted to Vietnam. Although he served with honor and did as he was ordered, he’s quite vehement that no one will ever be telling him where to go and what to do ever again. Dad is a big man and very strong, even now. I can’t imagine the police trying to take him—the results would be tragic. His family already knows that we will have a terrible time if he ever develops dementia, but he loves us and trusts us and if that ever comes to pass we’ll do what has to be done.

Well, who knows. Maybe the “guardians” don’t target elderly people who are obviously going to be difficult.

What can adult children of currently independent seniors do to prevent this or intervene?
Wait...

"What can currently independent seniors do to prevent this..."?

The way some of that was described, IF the "guardian" set her sights on us for some reason, right now, and the court obliged as seems to have been the case...

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by Euclidian » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:27 pm

In Texas there is a document "Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Need of Guardian" that can be filled out in advance of need. I assume it would be helpful in presenting to the court to stop an unwanted professional guardian.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:30 pm

One question I have: what are the things that make one look like a good prospect for a victim? What can you do to look like a bad prospect?

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:31 pm

This article is terrifying. I had no idea this problem existed but have been googling now and found plenty of corroborating articles, plus sites that show one how to become a “professional guardian.”
In your googling, have you found any sites that tell how to protect yourself from this?
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by boglesmind » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:35 pm

fposte wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:29 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:09 am

But...this is very concerning. I scanned the article and actually it appears that OP's title is a bit overactive, as it seems that the particular abuse described has been reined in to a degree.
It sounded more to me like one bad actor got caught and one state may be enacting legislation to limit the problem for those elderly who can find a sympathetic lawyer (which sounds like a Herculean task given the state some of these people were put in), but that it hasn't been dealt with in any broader way.
Other bad actors including one powerful actor (XYZ) remains untouched and so is the systemic problem. Quoting from the article
Much of the criticism is aimed at the county’s most prominent private guardian, XYZ, 72, who reigned as the county public administrator for 24 years before starting his private practice in 2003. +XYZ, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment, is considered an insider in the Las Vegas legal community, where his contacts with judges, politicians and prominent business leaders go back decades. Despite repeated accusations of financial irregularities, ethical lapses and at least one FBI investigation, he has never been accused of a crime
See also
http://www.mercurynews.com/2012/09/20/s ... d-elderly/
re: exorbitant fees charged by trustees/guardians and

https://apha.confex.com/apha/141am/webp ... 292971.pdf
re: abuses by public guardians in California.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:37 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:30 pm
One question I have: what are the things that make one look like a good prospect for a victim? What can you do to look like a bad prospect?
Look poor.
If your parents need in-home caregivers, get the financial paperwork out of the house or securely locked up and hidden. Have the bills sent to you, so the caregivers can't tell whether the seniors have money. At least it looks like this company may have used in-home aides to scout for prospects.

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horrific cautionary tale in New Yorker: how to protect against something like this

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:51 pm

[merged dodecahedron's thread into this existing one - moderator prudent]

My jaw dropped farther and farther in horror as I read this New Yorker story about the terrible systematic court-endorsed financial abuse of a number of elders by self-appointed complete strangers who got themselves appointed as legal guardians of seniors, overriding the desires of competent elders and their beloved caring adult children, forcing the seniors to move out of their homes, selling off their assets (including their homes and their contents), billing outrageous hourly fees, and taking away their autonomy on flimsy evidence of incompetence obtained from physicians with an egregious financial conflict of interest.

This happened in Nevada, but it is unclear whether something like it could happen elsewhere. Are there other states seniors should avoid? Is there anything one can do in advance to protect oneself or one's parents against such abuses.
Last edited by dodecahedron on Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by Raymond » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:57 pm

Thank you for posting the link to this article.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:02 pm

tc101: Thank you very much for posting the link to the article. I cannot imagine how deep the corruption must have been with those involved.

Thanks to your link alerting us to this type issue, I will be reading Florida's statutes to get a feel for how much risk wife and I might have for such deplorable activities.

Can you imagine the fate of those poor souls who had no children or relatives to look over them? Given the couple in the article had family, yet were stymied at every turn, I can't imagine those seniors without any legitimate people outside the legal/government looking out for them. :shock:

Wow! :mad:

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by KlingKlang » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:18 pm

Wow. This is really relevant to me personally since my 90 year old mother is currently in a rehabilitation facility after experiencing her seventh fall in the last two years (she likes to mix bourbon and pain pills). She lives alone in her suburban brick ranch and insists that she wants to die there. She has a net worth of just under a million. I have health care and financial POAs for her, the alternate is a former friend who says that she never wants to talk to her again because she is an abusive, lying, drunken bully (all true).

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by El Greco » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:22 pm

I am especially concerned by this. DW and I are close to retirement age, have no children and the only living relatives we have are older siblings. What can we do to protect ourselves?

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:24 pm

Now that I have picked my jaw up off the ground, I can think of several things that could have made a huge difference in situations like these:

1) Annuities! If an elderly individual or couple annuitizes (most of) their assets, they become a much less attractive target for an opportunist like Ms. Parks. Even if Ms. Parks chose to take over the couple's financial lives, she would have been really slowed down in draining their resources. (Note that deferring Social Security is effectively a form of annuitization.)

2) Reverse mortgage--if an elder owns a home with a large reverse mortgage balance, there would have been no incentive to sell the house out from under them. Alternatively, the home could be retitled into the names of the intended heirs with the elders retaining a "life estate" guaranteeing them the right to live in the home until their deaths.

3) Making planned charitable donations in advance to a Donor Advised Fund (and designating trusted family members as co-advisors and successor advisors to the DAF.)

4) Related to both #1 and #3, setting up a charitable gift annuity. Charitable remainder trusts and other forms of split giving may also be worth considering. "Lumping" charitable giving (possibly in concert with Rothification of tax deferred assets) could be a very good idea.

5) In general, asset Rothification would be a way to reduce one's attractiveness to a vulture.

6) Establishing a strong relationship in advance with an attorney specializing in elder law who could have been a resource to the seniors and their children in dealing with the situation.

7) Establishing a strong relationship in advance a trusted family physician who can testify to the seniors' competence over the flimsy evidence collected by chance encounters with corrupt care providers like those profiled in the article.

Many of these things are worth considering in any case, but the possibility of a situation like this makes them even more attractive.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by sport » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:28 pm

IANAL, however, it seems that a trust would help to prevent such abuse. When you put your assets into a trust, you no longer own them. The trust owns them. The trust will also specify a successor trustee in case of incompetency. So, it would seem that a "guardian" would not be able to get control of the trust.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:31 pm

Keep a network of friends (and family, if possible). Know people in the community. This abuse will be easier to pull off if the senior is isolated. These people don't want a group of family and friends to band together and take them to court, they want to pick off the mostly forgotten, isolated, weak members with strong bank accounts.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:39 pm

dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:24 pm
Now that I have picked my jaw up off the ground, I can think of several things that could have made a huge difference in situations like these:

1) Annuities! If an elderly individual or couple annuitizes (most of) their assets, they become a much less attractive target for an opportunist like Ms. Parks. Even if Ms. Parks chose to take over the couple's financial lives, she would have been really slowed down in draining their resources. (Note that deferring Social Security is effectively a form of annuitization.)

2) Reverse mortgage--if an elder owns a home with a large reverse mortgage balance, there would have been no incentive to sell the house out from under them. Alternatively, the home could be retitled into the names of the intended heirs with the elders retaining a "life estate" guaranteeing them the right to live in the home until their deaths.

3) Making planned charitable donations in advance to a Donor Advised Fund (and designating trusted family members as co-advisors and successor advisors to the DAF.)

4) Related to both #1 and #3, setting up a charitable gift annuity. Charitable remainder trusts and other forms of split giving may also be worth considering. "Lumping" charitable giving (possibly in concert with Rothification of tax deferred assets) could be a very good idea.

5) In general, asset Rothification would be a way to reduce one's attractiveness to a vulture.

6) Establishing a strong relationship in advance with an attorney specializing in elder law who could have been a resource to the seniors and their children in dealing with the situation.

7) Establishing a strong relationship in advance a trusted family physician who can testify to the seniors' competence over the flimsy evidence collected by chance encounters with corrupt care providers like those profiled in the article.

Many of these things are worth considering in any case, but the possibility of a situation like this makes them even more attractive.
I think there is a large pile o' jaws on the ground just now...

We are in el greco's situation (no heirs/family).

Question, dodecahedron: Why is a Roth better than a plain vanilla tIRA with respect to this potential problem?

And a generous lifetime annuity, along with good SS benefits... that could make a nice tidy income, but for someone "else" :(
(Plus whatever is not annuitized, given that in general, one shouldn't annuitize everything.)

As for a trusted family physician, in this "little scheme", I'm not at all sure the "real physician who knows the elder" would ever be involved. This all seems to be handled on what might be the most expedited government/legal arrangement ever.
Quiet (secret, even) and fast. "Done!" "Neeeeext!??"

I still can't shake the feeling of "but there must be more to this than it appears..."

For now, if anyone tried to "interfere", we'd be on the horn to attorneys, and assorted major news media.
But later...

The main problem seems to be quite a nice enabling legal arrangement, including at least one court/judge.

RM
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fposte
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by fposte » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:51 pm

I'm afraid it doesn't sound to me like most of what people are suggesting would have prevented the circumstances in NM and NV. If the family doctor didn't play ball, they found another one; if the family tried to interfere, the guardian banned them and the court sanctioned them. If the child takes legal action, the defense of the guardian comes out of the elder's own funds and the children are, according to the AJ article, "rarely successful."

I think protection would have to come at a legislative level at this point, not at the individual. If AARP is such a powerful lobby, maybe they could turn some attention to this issue.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:54 pm

> And a generous lifetime annuity, along with good SS benefits... that could make a nice tidy income, but for someone "else" :(
(Plus whatever is not annuitized, given that in general, one shouldn't annuitize everything.)

Actually I buy the annuity suggestion. Yes, there is money to be had. But the "guardian" has to spend at least some of it on the victim's expenses. So the gains come in dribs and drabs. Much more attractive to drain a big account all at once.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:02 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:54 pm
> And a generous lifetime annuity, along with good SS benefits... that could make a nice tidy income, but for someone "else" :(
(Plus whatever is not annuitized, given that in general, one shouldn't annuitize everything.)

Actually I buy the annuity suggestion. Yes, there is money to be had. But the "guardian" has to spend at least some of it on the victim's expenses. So the gains come in dribs and drabs. Much more attractive to drain a big account all at once.
Well, yes, of course.

But this scheme seems to be almost on auto-pilot, a real conveyor belt of victims.

So for those with a house to sell (plus some nice possession; "guardian" seems to have developed an eye for art, too), dump 'em in cheap warehousing, and pocket the change, month after month, from a nice, increasing collection of annuities/SS :annoyed

I'm still having REAL trouble understanding how this could hold up when relatives tried to intervene, absent some very serious malfeasance (too gentle a word!) right up to the top levels...

Chilling.

RM
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by pondering » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:03 pm

Time for an intrepid platiff attorney and class action lawsuit.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by bowest » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:05 pm

cu_ wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:57 am
Its too long, written like a novel. Hope I can find a synopsis somewhere. I want to know about this... but don't have time to read the entire story. What is the gist of this?
Please take 10 minutes to read the story.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:11 pm

In general, asset Rothification would be a way to reduce one's attractiveness to a vulture.
Why? I don't understand.
. | The most important thing you should know about me is that I am not an expert.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:44 pm

tc101 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:11 pm
In general, asset Rothification would be a way to reduce one's attractiveness to a vulture.
Why? I don't understand.
For essentially the same reason that Rothification reduces one's attractiveness to a predatory AUM financial advisor. Prepaying taxes (possibly in concert with lumping of advance charitable deductions via donations to a DAF, or a split interest gift such as a CRAT or CRUT) reduces the apparent size of the assets in the account.

One could easily imagine a predatory guardian helping herself to her ward's tax-deferred assets without worrying about the future tax liability she is generating (or possibly figuring she will place the ward in some kind of unneeded LTC situation--potentially involving kickbacks from that institution as suggested in the article--that will generate offsetting deductions.)

Essentially, anything one can do to prepay expenses (whether income taxes, home improvements that reduce the future need for aides or reduce future energy consumption, solar, charity) in a form that reduces the remaining balances available to be (mis)appropriated by the predatory guardian (or a predatory AUM financial advisory) will make the elder's financial statements a less attractive target.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by MathWizard » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:45 pm

An earlier Forbes article on this suggest that this happens more often in families
where there is conflict within the family. They have some suggestions at the end of the article
which are similar to what has already been suggested by previous posters.

The key may be in having POA and a health care proxy in place nad in having
family members who are looking out for your best interest, not theirs.

Hopefully we have been a model to our children on this in how we treated our parents.
Upon the youngest attaining age 21, we have both above documents in place naming
the spouse first, and a child on each secondary.

This seems to be happening in several states. The ex parte part is what would have me most worried,
and seems to violate due process. We don't treat murders this way.

State supreme courts have gotten involved, but I see no mention of the US Supreme Court taking this up.
Maybe that is what will have to happen. If this is only a few states, then this might represent an
unknown risk if one moves to another state in retirement.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by bsteiner » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:54 pm

tc101 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:18 am
Another reason to have a strong power of attorney in place.
I have the same question as the last poster. Does power of attorney override legal guardianship? How exactly would this work?
A guardianship overrides a power of attorney. However, if there's a power of attorney in place, there's no need for a guardian of the property, unless there's conflict within the family.

In one of the cases I described above, the mother gave a power of attorney to one child, but the other child contested it. Since the two children didn't talk to each other, the court appointed a nonprofit agency as guardian.
MathWizard wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:45 pm
An earlier Forbes article on this suggest that this happens more often in families
where there is conflict within the family. ...
That is correct.

Also, in most of the guardianship cases where an outsider is appointed as guardian, the alleged incapacitated person has very little in the way of assets, and no family members available to act as guardian.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by downshiftme » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:00 pm

Completely terrifying stories of seniors declared incompetent against their will and taken advantage of by "professional" guardians. In many cases it appears the guardians selected their victims based on available assets and used the flimsiest of excuses and complicit physicians, courts and retirement homes to force their way into control of the seniors' assets, and cement their position as guardian with the ability to bill large fees at will. In some cases, even over the objections of family.

These are tales of a system of abuse, and completely horrifying. Forced relocations on short (or almost no notice), lack of information to any family, seeming no recourse and no way to regain control of the situation once the crony judges start making rulings for the guardianship. And if this wasn't horrible enough, some of the victims were not all that old, in their 60's or 70's.

Aside from the advice to not make yourself an attractive target by appearing less well off than you really are, I would be very interested in what steps can be taken to prevent such a scenario from happening to me. I note that in some of the stories, concerned and involved family were not able to rescue trapped victims. Would strong legal agreements, such as POA have been a useful tool? Why? What about later stages of the scheme where the seniors are over-medicated and unable to help themselves. What kind of protections can be put in place to limit or prevent the over-medication?

In my personal life, even with medical POA, we were unable to make any progress on getting doctors in a senior center to reduce heavy doses of sedatives and opioids until we produced a nephew who was a physician to argue the case directly. The doctors were telling us death was a matter of months on the medications, but when dosages were reduced a miraculous recovery ensued and many years of active life remained. How can I protect myself from such scenarios?

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by Euclidian » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:08 pm

As I mentioned in one of the merged threads there is a document that you can fill out in advance of need specifying who you would like as guardian should the situation arise. In Texas it is called "Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Need of Guardian".

I'm not sure how useful having this document is but, after reading this thread, my spouse and I will be filling one out and having it notarized along with the self proving affidavit.

https://forms.justia.com/texas/statewid ... -2070.html

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