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

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Wakefield1
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by Wakefield1 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:10 pm

This article reminds me of accounts of what happened to Jewish families and individuals who happened to be living in Germany at the time that the Nazis came to power. Basic civil rights and protection of the law vaporized.
The stories of forced medication-shades of Mengele?

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

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:18 pm

Euclidian wrote:
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
Okay, playing a "true devil's" advocate... let's say some "professional guardian" has been eyeing you...
You've got this advance guardian declaration all nicely signed and sealed, etc.

The professional guardian descends...
How is that document going to stop them if having a caring relative wouldn't have worked?
Who would even show that document to the so-called judge/court?

There is SO much wrong in this picture, it's difficult to comprehend.
But it's also difficult to figure out how one could avoid it/get out of it *IF* such a "dedicated care-taker" :annoyed was on the case, unless there was some serious and high-level legal representation getting heavily involved.
And somehow, with the "judge in on it", that's not necessarily much comfort.
(Did the judge get kickbacks? Just overworked, rubber stamping everything "that nice guardian" put in front of him/her?)

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

Post by Euclidian » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:26 pm

I agree that having an advance document won't stop the horrible events described. My hope is that it will provide ammunition for my children to fight back in court after the fact and overturn the guardianship.

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

Post by tc101 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:47 pm

Here is an organization "Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship" http://aaapg.net/ that is fighting this.

And here is something from the article about its founder
Richard Black, who, after his father-in-law was placed into guardianship, became the director of a grassroots national organization, Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship, said that he considered the Parks indictment “irrefutably shallow. It sent a strong message of: We’re not going to go after the real leaders of this, only the easy people, the ones who were arrogant and stupid enough to get caught.” He works with victims in dozens of what he calls “hot spots,” places where guardianship abuse is prevalent, often because they attract retirees: Palm Beach, Sarasota, Naples, Albuquerque, San Antonio. He said that the problems in Clark County are not unusual. “The only thing that is unique is that Clark County is one of the few jurisdictions that doesn’t seal its records, so we can see what is going on.”
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sergeant
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by sergeant » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:23 pm

My children are far too aware of our finances, and their inheritance, to let anyone attempt a similar ploy. I read the article, the "judge" should have been criminally charged or at least disbarred. I have often worked with the elderly in distressing conditions. It is easier for first responders when we can reach a competent family member.
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NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:32 pm

It is probably much more common for family members to fleece the elders than for strangers to barge in and do it. Just like child kidnapping. But what a mess to unravel, if it can even be done.

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

Post by Gnirk » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:06 pm

My husband and I have named those who we want appointed as our guardians, should the need arise, in both our Durable power of Attorney for financial and Durable Power of Attorney for Medical. I pray those hold up in court should they ever be needed. And our children have copies of those documents, and know where the originals are stored.

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

Post by pondering » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:26 pm

The only court fight I had with my estranged brother was from a letter he sent the executor of the estates attorney to challenge how to handle the remains. He withdrew his objection on the last day of the filing period.

Previous to that he tried to act as our Mother's guardian from 5000 miles away.

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

Post by btenny » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:42 pm

This kind of stuff has been going on legally for years all across the US. Here are stories from Arizona and Tennessee and other states. The Forbes article recommends a good Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Directive filed before need with a "trusted right person" who will watch over your needs and your assets.

http://www.arizonaseniorlaw.com/news/20 ... ong-story/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue ... c9a79b3b49
http://stopguardianabuse.org/

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

Post by delamer » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:09 pm

There was so much corruption, dishonesty, and incompetence in the Nevada guardianship system that it is mind-boggling. And the fact that even those elders with children who were actively involved in their lives were vulnerable to that system is really frightening.

I do want to note that it was a newspaper investigation that ultimately brought about changes in the Nevada system. It is good to hear that the press still has that kind of power to affect change.

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

Post by auntie » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:37 pm

Now I understand what happened with my uncle maybe 10 years ago. His kids sneaked him out of Michigan in the night and took him to California. He had to abandon some of his property in Michigan but the kids managed to save most of it.

When they tried to explain what had happened I couldn't believe that someone was able to be his guardian against the wishes of his family.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by Fallible » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:05 pm

Thanks for the article.

Here is another NYT article from last July on another guardianship case and some excerpts providing perspective:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/busi ... dults.html
The National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit think tank, estimates that guardians across the country supervise 1.3 million adults and an aggregate of $50 billion of their assets. Brenda K. Uekert, the center’s principal court research consultant, said that with the “aging of the baby boomers and the onset of dementia, we expect those numbers to go up.”

In November 2016, the G.A.O. reported that in eight cases it examined in six states, guardians were found to have stolen more than $600,000 from their elderly wards. A 2010 G.A.O. report found that from 1990 to 2010 guardians in 20 cases stole $5.4 million.

One reason for guardianship exploitation: a lack of money for oversight, according to Dr. Uekert and other reform advocates. State courts cannot afford to hire enough people to monitor the well-being of wards and to scrutinize the guardians’ stewardship of assets. They also say that many judges, who usually preside in probate or family court, do not have the time or expertise to conduct more than a cursory review before granting a guardianship petition.
...
As reports of guardian exploitation mount, court experts and advocates for the elderly are pushing for better judicial oversight. Dr. Uekert’s group is training judges to find alternatives to full guardianship. She is also working with several states to create automated systems that would detect misspending.
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by cornellmoore » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:28 pm

I sent this link to a friend who has a law degree and deals with some guardianship cases in Texas. I got back this response:
I didn’t read thru the whole thing because after a few paragraphs I can tell the author was making things up. He or she claimed the elderlies didn’t know about this guardianship. Yeah right. The law would have required that a personal citation be served on the elderly if someone is getting a guardianship over her. Personal citation. It means a sheriff has to come and physically give you the petition. If you are not home, the sheriff will have to come back. This is the law in Texas and I doubt if it is any different elsewhere.

Then it claimed the elder woman has never had any cognitive assessment. Right. All guardianship requires a doctors exam report. Without that you can’t proceed. So right there. The author is writing a fiction. And I was done reading.
For the record I disagree with this "friend" and find this response disturbingly dismissive.

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

Post by mouses » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:32 am

cornellmoore wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:28 pm
I sent this link to a friend who has a law degree and deals with some guardianship cases in Texas. I got back this response:
I didn’t read thru the whole thing because after a few paragraphs I can tell the author was making things up. He or she claimed the elderlies didn’t know about this guardianship. Yeah right. The law would have required that a personal citation be served on the elderly if someone is getting a guardianship over her. Personal citation. It means a sheriff has to come and physically give you the petition. If you are not home, the sheriff will have to come back. This is the law in Texas and I doubt if it is any different elsewhere.

Then it claimed the elder woman has never had any cognitive assessment. Right. All guardianship requires a doctors exam report. Without that you can’t proceed. So right there. The author is writing a fiction. And I was done reading.
For the record I disagree with this "friend" and find this response disturbingly dismissive.
Yes, I agree with Cornell. The friend's viewpoint is probably a contributing factor to why it is so hard for the family or the direct victims to get out of these situations.

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

Post by tadamsmar » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:50 am

cornellmoore wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:28 pm
I sent this link to a friend who has a law degree and deals with some guardianship cases in Texas. I got back this response:
I didn’t read thru the whole thing because after a few paragraphs I can tell the author was making things up. He or she claimed the elderlies didn’t know about this guardianship. Yeah right. The law would have required that a personal citation be served on the elderly if someone is getting a guardianship over her. Personal citation. It means a sheriff has to come and physically give you the petition. If you are not home, the sheriff will have to come back. This is the law in Texas and I doubt if it is any different elsewhere.

Then it claimed the elder woman has never had any cognitive assessment. Right. All guardianship requires a doctors exam report. Without that you can’t proceed. So right there. The author is writing a fiction. And I was done reading.
For the record I disagree with this "friend" and find this response disturbingly dismissive.
A lawyer should know that we have 50 distinct state laws. The case was Nevada:

"File the "Certificate of Incapacity" (if not already done). This is the form that is usually completed by a doctor, explaining the medical condition of the person. If this was not filed with all of the other papers when the case was opened, be sure it is filed before the hearing."

Usually a doctor?

http://www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/ ... he-hearing

Notification is required, but not by the sheriff. Certified mail, personal delivery by a neutral party, other means are sufficient.

http://www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/ ... -relatives

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

Post by Leemiller » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:57 am

I haven't read the article or some of the posts, but I do want to state my experience which was that my family could not get a mentally ill relative declared incompetent. We got the state involved, doctors, attorneys, but it was to no avail. This was for someone who refused medical treatment for a long time for a treatable disease - not for religious reasons. I understand this article may be the other extreme, but my experience taught me that when you really are mentally ill the system is strongly weighted against stepping in.

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

Post by pondering » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:27 am

Leemiller wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:57 am
I haven't read the article or some of the posts, but I do want to state my experience which was that my family could not get a mentally ill relative declared incompetent. We got the state involved, doctors, attorneys, but it was to no avail. This was for someone who refused medical treatment for a long time for a treatable disease - not for religious reasons. I understand this article may be the other extreme, but my experience taught me that when you really are mentally ill the system is strongly weighted against stepping in.
What state was the relative in at the time?
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by carolinaman » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:36 am

It sounds like the fix is in in Nevada. I have experience with guardianship in NC. My BIL and his wife were deemed incompetent and a guardian was appointed. The family asked Social Services to investigate their situation because the care givers they had were stealing them blind. SS handled the case, determined them incompetent based upon defined criteria and testing, and family members were offered the opportunity to be their guardian. When no one was willing to be the guardian, a lawyer was appointed. Their case was reviewed by the Social Services attorney and the judge asked all the right questions at their hearing. The lawyer and his firm did an excellent job and always had his clients interest at heart. I think it would be very difficult to replicate what is happening in NV in NC.

Also, I had discussions with Social Services in VA as my mother's health declined and she became more paranoid. We considered having her ruled incompetent because we she lived alone and we were concerned for her safety. It is not easy to rule someone incompetent in VA against their wishes. Despite my mother's issues, there was no way to rule her incompetent without her permission.

Admittedly, this is a small sample size, but both VA and NC seem to have their act together on this matter. Nevada seems to be out of control and there needs to be an investigation and possibly new laws to better protect seniors.

J295
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by J295 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:46 am

onthecusp wrote: ↑Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:12 am
J295 wrote: ↑Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:38 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."
Our durable POA states that in the event a guardian is to be appointed that it is the wishes of the principal (my parents) to be the agent named in the POA. At least around here, a judge would have a very difficult time appointing a professional guardian over me (the agent in the POA) especially when my only two sisters would support my appointment (or the absence of any appointment, since a guardian wouldn't be necessary due to the POA).

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

Post by Da5id » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:50 am

Leemiller wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:57 am
I haven't read the article or some of the posts, but I do want to state my experience which was that my family could not get a mentally ill relative declared incompetent. We got the state involved, doctors, attorneys, but it was to no avail. This was for someone who refused medical treatment for a long time for a treatable disease - not for religious reasons. I understand this article may be the other extreme, but my experience taught me that when you really are mentally ill the system is strongly weighted against stepping in.
I'd say rather the system is strongly weighted against taking away someone's autonomy. The default is to assume an adult is competent to make such decisions in their own interest, and that overriding that freedom should require significant proof (part of what makes this story scary). At least in my state, I know from personal family experience that forcibly medicating a relative with anti-psychotics (sad situation, but necessary for aggressive/delusive individual with rapidly deteriorating dementia) required certification by the hospital psychiatrist treating him, a court appointed attorney advocating for the patient and certification by an independent psychiatrist selected by the court appointed attorney, and a judge. I guess if the courts and psychiatrists were all colluding he could have been railroaded, but certainly not the case here. All states are different.

Very sad situation in this story. I think the elderly who are losing cognitive ability (or not so much as in this case) are at risk, both from strangers (these unscrupulous guardians) and regrettably from greedy relatives as well. Courts are often overwhelmed anyway, they have to trust what is put before them. Hard to solve. Thankfully I have two kids who will take care of my interests, as I'll take care of my parents when the time comes. No substitute for a trusted relative/friend advocating on your behalf, but maybe legal workarounds for those lacking such.

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

Post by Levett » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:41 am

Here's a local case that appears in today's morning paper.

It's the headline of the Lansing State Journal. I hope folks can get past the firewall.

There is a lot detail.

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/stor ... 712704001/

Lev

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

Post by bsteiner » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:08 am

Da5id wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:50 am
Leemiller wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:57 am
I haven't read the article or some of the posts, but I do want to state my experience which was that my family could not get a mentally ill relative declared incompetent. We got the state involved, doctors, attorneys, but it was to no avail. This was for someone who refused medical treatment for a long time for a treatable disease - not for religious reasons. I understand this article may be the other extreme, but my experience taught me that when you really are mentally ill the system is strongly weighted against stepping in.
I'd say rather the system is strongly weighted against taking away someone's autonomy. The default is to assume an adult is competent to make such decisions in their own interest, and that overriding that freedom should require significant proof (part of what makes this story scary). At least in my state, I know from personal family experience that forcibly medicating a relative with anti-psychotics (sad situation, but necessary for aggressive/delusive individual with rapidly deteriorating dementia) required certification by the hospital psychiatrist treating him, a court appointed attorney advocating for the patient and certification by an independent psychiatrist selected by the court appointed attorney, and a judge. I guess if the courts and psychiatrists were all colluding he could have been railroaded, but certainly not the case here. All states are different.

Very sad situation in this story. I think the elderly who are losing cognitive ability (or not so much as in this case) are at risk, both from strangers (these unscrupulous guardians) and regrettably from greedy relatives as well. Courts are often overwhelmed anyway, they have to trust what is put before them. Hard to solve. Thankfully I have two kids who will take care of my interests, as I'll take care of my parents when the time comes. No substitute for a trusted relative/friend advocating on your behalf, but maybe legal workarounds for those lacking such.
Da5id: that was an excellent summary and analysis. You presented it in a way that made it actionable.

Guardianships are a last resort. While the procedures vary from state to state, they're generally cumbersome. If the family cooperates, one or more family members can be the guardian(s), in which case it will be a bit of a nuisance but not the disaster as in the articles.

While (as has been discussed many times here and elsewhere) powers of attorney may not be perfect, they generally work, and will generally prevent a guardianship. Also, by giving someone a power of attorney, you get to select the person who will act for you. Of course, you have to be careful in the selection of the agent.

It also helps if the family cooperates. If the family doesn't cooperate, someone can bring a guardianship proceeding challenging the power of attorney.

There's a tension between making the power of attorney effective immediately, or only upon a contingency such as disability. A power of attorney gives the agent broad powers, so there's some risk that the agent will misbehave. However, a springing power (one that becomes effective upon the happening of a contingency) requires the agent to prove that the contingency has occurred. Most people in long and happy first marriages give their spouse a power of attorney that's effective immediately. Likewise, most older people with mature and responsible children give one or more of their children a power of attorney that's effective immediately (or immediately if there's no spouse or if the spouse is not available). Some states such as Florida generally don't allow springing powers.

If you don't have anyone suitable, and you want a bank to act as agent, you'll probably need to do a revocable trust with the bank as a trustee, since banks prefer to act as trustee than as agent under a power of attorney.

Even if you give someone a power of attorney, you can still act on your own behalf. If you know you're declining (for example, if you're in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's), and you're concerned that a specific person might prey on you, you may want to create a trust that you can't revoke or amend without the consent of one or more specified persons. However, you have to be very careful in the selection of the person(s) having that power.

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

Post by Da5id » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:25 am

bsteiner wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:08 am
Guardianships are a last resort. While the procedures vary from state to state, they're generally cumbersome. If the family cooperates, one or more family members can be the guardian(s), in which case it will be a bit of a nuisance but not the disaster as in the articles.

While (as has been discussed many times here and elsewhere) powers of attorney may not be perfect, they generally work, and will generally prevent a guardianship. Also, by giving someone a power of attorney, you get to select the person who will act for you. Of course, you have to be careful in the selection of the agent.

It also helps if the family cooperates. If the family doesn't cooperate, someone can bring a guardianship proceeding challenging the power of attorney.
I'd also note that in my state, Massachusetts, guardianship (making decisions for a persons care and well being) is legally distinct from conservatorship (making decisions about their assets/property finances). Getting appointed guardian and/or conservator are I think separate hearings. see e.g. https://www.malawforum.com/content/cons ... -elder-law

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

Post by littlebird » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:38 am

Da5id wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:25 am
bsteiner wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:08 am
Guardianships are a last resort. While the procedures vary from state to state, they're generally cumbersome. If the family cooperates, one or more family members can be the guardian(s), in which case it will be a bit of a nuisance but not the disaster as in the articles.

While (as has been discussed many times here and elsewhere) powers of attorney may not be perfect, they generally work, and will generally prevent a guardianship. Also, by giving someone a power of attorney, you get to select the person who will act for you. Of course, you have to be careful in the selection of the agent.

It also helps if the family cooperates. If the family doesn't cooperate, someone can bring a guardianship proceeding challenging the power of attorney.
I'd also note that in my state, Massachusetts, guardianship (making decisions for a persons care and well being) is legally distinct from conservatorship (making decisions about their assets/property finances). Getting appointed guardian and/or conservator are I think separate hearings. see e.g. https://www.malawforum.com/content/cons ... -elder-law
Yes, many states have far more robust systems for protection of vulnerable people than the kabuki theater that was described in the New Yorker article.

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

Post by tc101 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:49 am

If you don't have anyone suitable, and you want a bank to act as agent, you'll probably need to do a revocable trust with the bank as a trustee, since banks prefer to act as trustee than as agent under a power of attorney.
That's my situation. I don't have anyone suitable. I am 67. I have no children and all the people who I would trust to do this are about my age.

My question is how to pick a bank to be trustee. How do I know I can trust the bank? Or does the trust document make it impossible for the bank to steal from me?
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by cu_ » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:01 am

tc101 wrote:
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.
Thank you so much. I understand now. This is a land of opportunity and there are many ways to make a living that does not involve taking advantage of senior citizens. What a cruel world.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by Call_Me_Op » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:09 am

tc101 wrote:
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.
Something needs to be done about these crooks!
Best regards, -Op | | "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Einstein

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by telemark » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:50 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:16 am
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

RM
A scam involves fooling people or, more usually, convincing people to fool themselves. In the cases described, everyone involved understands what is going on, but this doesn't help the victims because law enforcement has already been paid off. I think the word we are looking for is racket.

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

Post by vtMaps » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:18 pm

MathWizard wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:45 pm
The ex parte part is what would have me most worried, and seems to violate due process.
+1. That is the essence of the problem. Our courts system is adversarial... it doesn't function fairly when only one side is represented.

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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything to this growing scam

Post by littlebird » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:23 pm

"All it takes is a short note from a doctor or physicians assistant to get someone ruled incompetent by the court. "


While this may or may not be true in Nevada, it's not true in many other states. Do some research on your own state's guardianship laws.

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

Post by jumpy » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:55 am

tc101 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:47 pm
Here is an organization "Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship" http://aaapg.net/ that is fighting this.

And here is something from the article about its founder
Richard Black, who, after his father-in-law was placed into guardianship, became the director of a grassroots national organization, Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship, said that he considered the Parks indictment “irrefutably shallow. It sent a strong message of: We’re not going to go after the real leaders of this, only the easy people, the ones who were arrogant and stupid enough to get caught.” He works with victims in dozens of what he calls “hot spots,” places where guardianship abuse is prevalent, often because they attract retirees: Palm Beach, Sarasota, Naples, Albuquerque, San Antonio. He said that the problems in Clark County are not unusual. “The only thing that is unique is that Clark County is one of the few jurisdictions that doesn’t seal its records, so we can see what is going on.”
This is a great point. In any business, a bad actor like that judge would have been fired and had a very hard time ever finding employment again. But since he works for the government, apparently nobody has a problem with his performance. Amazing.

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

Post by jumpy » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:06 am

bsteiner wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:08 am
Da5id wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:50 am
Leemiller wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:57 am
I haven't read the article or some of the posts, but I do want to state my experience which was that my family could not get a mentally ill relative declared incompetent. We got the state involved, doctors, attorneys, but it was to no avail. This was for someone who refused medical treatment for a long time for a treatable disease - not for religious reasons. I understand this article may be the other extreme, but my experience taught me that when you really are mentally ill the system is strongly weighted against stepping in.
I'd say rather the system is strongly weighted against taking away someone's autonomy. The default is to assume an adult is competent to make such decisions in their own interest, and that overriding that freedom should require significant proof (part of what makes this story scary). At least in my state, I know from personal family experience that forcibly medicating a relative with anti-psychotics (sad situation, but necessary for aggressive/delusive individual with rapidly deteriorating dementia) required certification by the hospital psychiatrist treating him, a court appointed attorney advocating for the patient and certification by an independent psychiatrist selected by the court appointed attorney, and a judge. I guess if the courts and psychiatrists were all colluding he could have been railroaded, but certainly not the case here. All states are different.

Very sad situation in this story. I think the elderly who are losing cognitive ability (or not so much as in this case) are at risk, both from strangers (these unscrupulous guardians) and regrettably from greedy relatives as well. Courts are often overwhelmed anyway, they have to trust what is put before them. Hard to solve. Thankfully I have two kids who will take care of my interests, as I'll take care of my parents when the time comes. No substitute for a trusted relative/friend advocating on your behalf, but maybe legal workarounds for those lacking such.
Da5id: that was an excellent summary and analysis. You presented it in a way that made it actionable.

Guardianships are a last resort. While the procedures vary from state to state, they're generally cumbersome. If the family cooperates, one or more family members can be the guardian(s), in which case it will be a bit of a nuisance but not the disaster as in the articles.

While (as has been discussed many times here and elsewhere) powers of attorney may not be perfect, they generally work, and will generally prevent a guardianship. Also, by giving someone a power of attorney, you get to select the person who will act for you. Of course, you have to be careful in the selection of the agent.

It also helps if the family cooperates. If the family doesn't cooperate, someone can bring a guardianship proceeding challenging the power of attorney.

There's a tension between making the power of attorney effective immediately, or only upon a contingency such as disability. A power of attorney gives the agent broad powers, so there's some risk that the agent will misbehave. However, a springing power (one that becomes effective upon the happening of a contingency) requires the agent to prove that the contingency has occurred. Most people in long and happy first marriages give their spouse a power of attorney that's effective immediately. Likewise, most older people with mature and responsible children give one or more of their children a power of attorney that's effective immediately (or immediately if there's no spouse or if the spouse is not available). Some states such as Florida generally don't allow springing powers.

If you don't have anyone suitable, and you want a bank to act as agent, you'll probably need to do a revocable trust with the bank as a trustee, since banks prefer to act as trustee than as agent under a power of attorney.

Even if you give someone a power of attorney, you can still act on your own behalf. If you know you're declining (for example, if you're in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's), and you're concerned that a specific person might prey on you, you may want to create a trust that you can't revoke or amend without the consent of one or more specified persons. However, you have to be very careful in the selection of the person(s) having that power.
Very good points in this post. When my wife and I set up POAs for each other (still middle aged with kids in school), our attorney advised against a springing POA, as they are often difficult to "spring" when the time comes. Also, any POA can be revoked at a later date if you change your mind about who should be your agent or go through a divorce, etc.

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

Post by Swansea » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:15 am

tc101 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:49 am
If you don't have anyone suitable, and you want a bank to act as agent, you'll probably need to do a revocable trust with the bank as a trustee, since banks prefer to act as trustee than as agent under a power of attorney.
That's my situation. I don't have anyone suitable. I am 67. I have no children and all the people who I would trust to do this are about my age.

My question is how to pick a bank to be trustee. How do I know I can trust the bank? Or does the trust document make it impossible for the bank to steal from me?
I would not trust a bank given my experience.

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

Post by tc101 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:53 am

Here is a good list of things to do to protect yourself.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/boomers- ... 958705859/
. | The most important thing you should know about me is that I am not an expert.

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

Post by finite_difference » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:04 pm

One of my favorite quotes:

“When Concetta Mormon, a wealthy woman who owned a Montessori school, became Shafer’s ward because she had aphasia, Shafer sold the school midyear, even though students were enrolled. At a hearing after the sale, Mormon’s daughter, Victoria Cloutier, constantly spoke out of turn. The judge, Robert Lueck, ordered that she be handcuffed and placed in a holding cell while the hearing continued. Two hours later, when Cloutier was allowed to return for the conclusion, the judge told her that she had thirty days in which to vacate her mother’s house. If she didn’t leave, she would be evicted and her belongings would be taken to Goodwill.”

How is this remotely constitutional? April Parks, Jared Shafer, and judge Robert Ludck should all be in jail.

Don’t retire in Nevada.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh

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

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:20 pm

finite_difference wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:04 pm
One of my favorite quotes:

“When Concetta Mormon, a wealthy woman who owned a Montessori school, became Shafer’s ward because she had aphasia, Shafer sold the school midyear, even though students were enrolled. At a hearing after the sale, Mormon’s daughter, Victoria Cloutier, constantly spoke out of turn. The judge, Robert Lueck, ordered that she be handcuffed and placed in a holding cell while the hearing continued. Two hours later, when Cloutier was allowed to return for the conclusion, the judge told her that she had thirty days in which to vacate her mother’s house. If she didn’t leave, she would be evicted and her belongings would be taken to Goodwill.”

How is this remotely constitutional? April Parks, Jared Shafer, and judge Robert Ludck should all be in jail.

Don’t retire in Nevada.
I'm losing track of all of these horrendous cases.

But did no one use a "good" attorney as soon as a problem was noticed, especially such as the case above, where it wasn't all "sold and sealed" before being noticed.
Someone who owns a school... presumably has some education and means, unlike perhaps some of the other sad souls who never had a chance when these scheming cronies started in on the "next" person...

This, plus the current tale of another BH'er whose father was scammed out of approx $50k... totally chilling.

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

Post by finite_difference » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:12 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:20 pm
finite_difference wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:04 pm
One of my favorite quotes:

“When Concetta Mormon, a wealthy woman who owned a Montessori school, became Shafer’s ward because she had aphasia, Shafer sold the school midyear, even though students were enrolled. At a hearing after the sale, Mormon’s daughter, Victoria Cloutier, constantly spoke out of turn. The judge, Robert Lueck, ordered that she be handcuffed and placed in a holding cell while the hearing continued. Two hours later, when Cloutier was allowed to return for the conclusion, the judge told her that she had thirty days in which to vacate her mother’s house. If she didn’t leave, she would be evicted and her belongings would be taken to Goodwill.”

How is this remotely constitutional? April Parks, Jared Shafer, and judge Robert Ludck should all be in jail.

Don’t retire in Nevada.
I'm losing track of all of these horrendous cases.

But did no one use a "good" attorney as soon as a problem was noticed, especially such as the case above, where it wasn't all "sold and sealed" before being noticed.
Someone who owns a school... presumably has some education and means, unlike perhaps some of the other sad souls who never had a chance when these scheming cronies started in on the "next" person...

This, plus the current tale of another BH'er whose father was scammed out of approx $50k... totally chilling.

RM
I think some people were blindsided. But some did have lawyers, but the “guardians” have their own highly paid lawyers and significant pull with the court:

“The family seemed to have suffered a form of court-sanctioned gaslighting. Passer’s daughter, Joyce, a psychiatric nurse who specialized in geriatrics, had been abruptly removed as her father’s co-guardian, because she appeared “unwilling or (more likely) unable to conduct herself rationally in the Ward’s best interests,” according to motions filed by one of Jared Shafer’s attorneys.
She and Manoli had begged Norheim not to appoint Shafer as guardian. “Sir, he’s abusive,” their lawyer said in court.
“He’s as good as we got, and I trust him completely,” Norheim responded.”

A lot of this corruption seems to trace back to Jon Norheim, who, as a “guardianship commissioner,” can apparently strip all your constitutional rights in minutes. He also belongs in jail.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh

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

Post by four7s » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:12 pm

Here's some credit where credit is due. As a Nevada resident and a Senior I am very aware of this situation. There is a local Seniors' newspaper called the Vegas Voice. Dan Roberts, the publisher, and a citizen named Rana Goodman are to be recognized for shining the light on this injustice. Rana and Dan have been on this story for a long time and have been honored by community organizations for their efforts. Their personal efforts were to alert the Nevada legislature to this injustice. Without Rana and Dan's effort April Parks would not be in jail and our local newspaper probably would not have pursued this story. Here is a link with the history of the issue.

http://www.thevegasvoice.net/issues.html

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

Post by DavidRoseMountain » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:33 pm

Wow this is terrifying and I live in Michigan and based on the article posted earlier it sounds like it happens here too.

here's a 46 minute radio report on public radio about this issue:

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/10/05/ ... -guardians

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

Post by bberris » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:13 pm

I don't see how annuity or maximized social security helps this. The crooked guardian simply takes the annuity payments instead of the assets.

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

Post by Crisium » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:50 pm

finite_difference wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:12 pm
A lot of this corruption seems to trace back to Jon Norheim, who, as a “guardianship commissioner,” can apparently strip all your constitutional rights in minutes. He also belongs in jail.
Really it is Jon Norheim that is so disturbing in all of this, along with the other judge (wealthy school owner) mentioned. Regardless of anything done by the elderly person themselves or their family, one single man has the power to remove their constitutional rights and transfer 100% of their wealth to a stranger who works for profit. I don't understand, are Judges absolute monarchs? Is there an appeal process to someone other than Jon Norheim (who is in a different court now I know)? The law supports absolute monarchy? I would assume at least it could be appealed before a higher court?

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

Post by WillRetire » Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:29 pm

Wall Street Journal reported on this type of situation two years ago. The victim in their story is a senior citizen in Washington State.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/abuse-plag ... 1446225524

Many players involved, including a neighbor/caretaker, judge and attorney, none of whom acted in the victim's interests at all times.

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

Post by bberris » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:27 am

It looks like Minnesota has some protections that Nevada does not. The court must notify the person being "protected". There must be "clear and convincing evidence" of incompetence. If you refuse an examination, it would be hard to provide clear and convincing evidence. You have the right to a free attorney if you can't afford one.

Best protection is to specify a guardian in advance of the need.

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

Post by tc101 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:44 am

Has anyone found a web site that lists the protections and problems in each state? I live in Georgia. My brother lives in California. How do we find out the protections and dangers in our states?
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ResearchMed
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:50 am

tc101 wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:44 am
Has anyone found a web site that lists the protections and problems in each state? I live in Georgia. My brother lives in California. How do we find out the protections and dangers in our states?
It ALL also would depend upon whether there is some corruption, as in Nevada, such that even advance guardianship directives or a personal agent "in person" would be disregarded (or arrested for interfering!)

That is what is so very scary in some of the above scenarios.
If there is a judge in cahoots... !?? :shock:

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

Post by thirdman » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:59 am

I think the only reason some action was taken in Nevada is because the guardianship racket story went national, and the casinos, which get a lot of revenue from retired people and their Social Security checks, were worried that people would be wary of retiring in Las Vegas. My guess is that the casinos wanted action, so as usual, the low people on the totem pole got charged and the big corrupt fish were left untouched. The judge, the “guardianship commissioner” and “Shafer” are still on the job.

As an aside, I am not surprised that there are corrupt physicians who for a consideration will sign that a person is incompetent, even without a good faith exam. They should also be prosecuted and lose their licenses. Unfortunately that is rare.

thirdman

edited to correct grammar.
Last edited by thirdman on Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:20 am

tc101 wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:44 am
Has anyone found a web site that lists the protections and problems in each state? I live in Georgia. My brother lives in California. How do we find out the protections and dangers in our states?
google "guardian + your state + statutes".

Worked for me when I wanted to find Florida's statutes concerning the subject. All I have to do now is to read, and attempt to understand legalese on a very dry subject.

At least you will have some idea as to what is out there in your particular state.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Senior citizens can lose everything [to professional guardians via court rulings]

Post by patngordo » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:07 pm

This is a good radio program from a couple days ago featuring the author of the New Yorker article, the gerontology specialist from Virginia Tech, and the daughter of the couple in the article.

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/10/05/ ... -guardians

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

Post by InMyDreams » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:52 pm

bberris wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:13 pm
I don't see how annuity or maximized social security helps this. The crooked guardian simply takes the annuity payments instead of the assets.
First - the crooks probably want your assets in large sums over shorter periods of time. If you're income doesn't exceed expenses (or at least, not by much), they can't grab it very fast

Second - When they're done bleeding you for what they can, at least you'll still have some income.

I'm back to thinking about a CCRC. Surely it would be difficult to persuade a judge that pulling me out of a CCRC could be in my best interests.
Last edited by InMyDreams on Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by InMyDreams » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:06 am

InMyDreams wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:52 pm
bberris wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:13 pm
I don't see how annuity or maximized social security helps this. The crooked guardian simply takes the annuity payments instead of the assets.
First - the crooks probably want your assets in large sums over shorter periods of time. If you're income doesn't exceed expenses (or at least, not by much), they can't grab it very fast

Second - When they're done bleeding you for what they can, at least you'll still have some income.

I'm back to thinking about a CCRC. Surely it would be difficult to persuade a judge that pulling me out of a CCRC could be in my best interests.

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