The Nationwide Problem of Court-Sponsored Elder Abuse

by Diane Dimond on February 29, 2016

Robert & Betty Were Married For 72 Years

Robert & Betty Were Married For 72 Years

I recently wrote about the plight of 94-year-old Betty Winstanley, who resides at the Masonic Village retirement home in Elizabethtown, PA. She doesn’t want to live there anymore. Now that her husband of 72 years is gone she longs to move to a care home closer to her two children in Maryland. The state of Pennsylvania won’t let her leave.

To the state Betty is case #1201 of 2014, just another old person the court has declared, “totally incapacitated.” Once someone is so labeled they get a court appointed guardian who, literally, takes over their life. Guardians decide all the ward’s finances, who can visit and for how long, when or if they can leave the home – everything.

This is widow Winstanley’s lot in life now. Yet when you talk to Betty she is charming, articulate, highly intelligent and simply looking for a less lonely life during her last years.

Betty Wants to Live in Maryland Near Family

Betty Wants to Live in Maryland Near Family

I had no idea the enormity of the nation’s elder guardianship problem or how many individuals and organizations are fighting to change the now bastardized set of laws that can turn an elder’s life into a nightmare.

If the aging Baby Boomer generation hasn’t already experienced the problem with their own parents – steel yourselves – you could be the next one to get caught up in this awful system.

Reader Marcia Southwick wrote to tell me about Boomers Against Elder Abuse, a New Mexico organization fighting against abusive court-ordered guardianships.

“There is plenty of it going on in New Mexico but records are sealed here, and families gag ordered and made to sign no-sue agreements once the guardianship/conservatorship is over,” she wrote. Her group’s Facebook page lists nearly 350 elder guardianship horror stories from just about every state in the union.

New Mexico's 2nd District Court - in Albuquerque

NM’s 2nd District Court – in Albuquerque

From Austin, Texas, Kelley Smoot Garrett also wrote about New Mexico’s system and the arrogance displayed by the court.

“In NM’s 2nd Judicial District Court,” she said, “The judges … ALWAYS favor their court-appointees and never listen to the families or the elderly because they are too busy allowing the “incapacitated” person’s property to be sold off – frequently without the appropriate court-order in place – for pennies on the dollar.”

There is no way for me to confirm judicial misconduct in sealed cases but the sheer volume of complaints Is staggering. They highlight citizen’s attitudes about the way the legal system has taken laws designed to help the elderly and twisted them to insure continued employment for judges, lawyers, court-appointed guardians, social workers and those who own or staff elder care homes. And it is, conveniently, paid for out of the estates of the elderly.

The Elderly: Among The Most Vulnerable

The Elderly: Among The Most Vulnerable

“My mother has been shanghaied into a nursing home, drugged, assets disbursed,” a woman named Frania wrote from Baltimore, Maryland. “The guardian of (Mom’s) property is like God. And the judge is cocky, completely confident, arrogant (and) does exactly what she wants knowing nothing will happen to her.”

It doesn’t matter if the elderly person has a will or living trust it can be automatically overridden by the state. Once someone approaches the court for assistance with an elderly person – say, a warring sibling or nosy neighbor– they are in the clutches of this dysfunctional system.

Andy Skupaka wrote to say he has experienced it. “For profit guardian/ conservatorship is now a big business with massive power. The elderly are being denied their civil rights and due process,” he said.

Courts Often Toss Out Elderly’s Last Wishes

“Their estates and legacies are being looted…Family members are slandered, libeled, vilified, and driven into bankruptcy while trying to save their loved ones from this exploitation.”

Some report they were tricked by unscrupulous lawyers. Darryl Steiner, a decorated and now retired Army Major wrote from Clearwater, Florida. He said he went to his lawyer for financial advice and suddenly found himself in what’s called a “plenary guardianship.” Now he has no control over his money for his son’s education.

“I do have a good monthly retirement income that disappears as soon as it comes in,” he said. “I am desperately seeking help.”

Several groups, nationwide, are working to change this awful system. Among them, the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, and the Catherine Falk Organization.

Catherine and Peter Falk

Catherine and Peter Falk in Happier Days

Catherine, daughter of the late actor, Peter Falk, of “Columbo” TV fame was denied visitation by her step-mother during her father’s last days. Now her group lobbies for a passage of a bill to remove barriers to family participation while still providing ample protection for those in true need. Falk says lawmakers in nearly two dozen states have responded positively to the need to change the status quo.

Change couldn’t come fast enough for Betty Winstanley. Ever since her eldest son, Richard, took a family squabble to court in July 2014, she has had to live where her husband died – and without being near the family she so desperately craves. Her estate was worth $1.9 million before her guardianship began in July 2014. Wonder what it’s down to now.

hometypewriter-150x150

###

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Scot Kienzlen February 29, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Diane, I can’t help but wonder how so many families get themselves in these predicaments, and then cry foul.
I am blessed with two younger brothers and a 90 year old mom, whom doctors say has the health of a woman 10 years younger. She decided to move to a retirement community several years after Dad passed, and with our help, is living a positive and comfortable life.
We have not dealt with scurrilous lawyers because we vetted well, and it amazes me that loved ones can’t take care of their own. Disagreements, sure. My brothers and I all got heated at one point, but we worked it out among ourselves; for the benefit of Mom. Isn’t that what “family” is supposed to do?

Could the reader been better served by listing the states which do NOT have such corruption, offering warning signs which lead to poor decisions, or the like? Or is that what you had in mind for your NEXT story? ?

Regards to Michael, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking, during similarly time-related shifts, while working at the Wall Street Journal Radio Network.

Cordially,
Scot Kienzlen

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:28 am

Scot –
Here’s the problem in listing only the states which, “do NOT have such corruption.”
In some states (like New Mexico) the records are all sealed. In some states a child, relative or spouse of the elder under guardianship are all gagged from speaking about the proceedings. If you read other comments here you’ll see many of them speak out anyway – they are THAT frustrated with the system that they see as, literally, enslaving their loved one.
A writer cannot present what they can’t prove – and perhaps that is the primary reason many states seal all the records. Oh, they’ll say it is for the privacy of the ward – but I honestly believe it aids “the racket” so they can continue to bleed the ward’s bank accounts. Thanks for writing~! DD

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:30 am

ABQ Journal Reader KathyMaryann Naczi writes:

“Thank you Diane for what you are doing to bring awareness to this awful greed that is happening via corrupt conservators and guardians, along with attorneys and judges who are allowing it to deplete people’s hard earned money just to fill their pockets. It was not until last year that we learned of the fact that these courts run under their own rules and not by the United States Constitution, so they can do what they please. Many are being isolated from loved ones and are dying under these terrible courts with no accountability to anyone, just a way to drain estates of their hard earned money. Shameful. Thank God for Catherine Falk Organization, Marcia Southwick and her Boomers Against Elder Abuse and National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse who are working hard to try to get bills passed in each state to stop the isolation. God love them all as they work diligently to get the word out of what is happening. Onward and Upward.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:34 am

ABQ Journal Reader Andie Skupaka writes:

“Ms. Dimond, those of us who have been victimized by New Mexico’s 2nd Judicial Dstrict Court’s guardianship scams are deeply grateful to you for opening the dialogue on “the enormity of the nation’s elderly guardianship problem.” If any of your readers find talk of this guardianship scam too hard to believe, then perhaps a few questions and answers will help.

QUESTION- What do rapists, pedophiles, thieves, and the court ordered for profit guardian / conservatorship industry have in common?

ANSWER- All of the above are PREDATORS. They prey on the sick, the weak, the helpless, the innocent, and the elderly. They are driven by the need for instant personal gratification, greed, and power. They are indifferent to the suffering and devastation they wreck on others. Profiteering guardians / conservators and their attorney’s will stop at nothing to secure and retain a moneyed ward.

QUESTION- I and my elderly loved ones have prepared legal Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Wills, and Advanced Directives. We are safe RIGHT?

ANSWER- WRONG! The public needs to know that there is no such thing as effective estate planning. It is an illusion, it does not exist. Once targeted for guardian / conservatorship, the stroke of a judge’s pen will nullify meticulously executed legal documents such as Wills, Powers of Attorneys, Trusts, and Advanced Directives. Those legal documents which once symbolized a labor of love and a guarantee of security and quality of life for the family will be meaningless and symbols of wasted time, energy, money, and disillusionment. In an instant, those legal documents will become useless paper destined for the recycle bin. And, that is a guarantee.

QUESTION- How does one get sucked into New Mexico’s guardianship system?

ANSWER- No one is safe! New Mexico’s elderly with assets and their families need to know that a single false allegation of abuse, a fall, a drug addled angry relative, or even an itinerant circus clown can petition the court to appoint a for profit guardian / conservator organization to take absolute control over every aspect of their personal and financial lives. The petition will will almost certainly be granted.

QUESTION- Surely there is someone in New Mexico who will help get justice for you and your and your loved one?

ANSWER- The answer is NO. Honest attorneys often decline to get involved. They are all too familiar with the elder fraud and entrapment scams pervading the New Mexico Judicial Elder Exploitation Juggernaut. They fear trumped up sanctions and possible fraudulent disbarment for trying to challenge the status quo. The criminal cartel of corrupt elder law attorneys, guardian ad litems, court visitors, and for profit guardian / conservators (court officials) is a well oiled machine. This is about courthouse cronyism, corruption, collusion, danger, greed, and racketeering. This is about kickbacks, referral fees, exploitation, favors, and substantial wealth for these predators. This is about a powerful group of people with a powerful amount of money and influence destroying powerless families and their powerless elderly loved ones. YOU WILL HAVE NOWHERE TO TURN FOR HELP!

OUESTION- Can’t these court officials get in trouble for lying, presenting fraudulent court reports, and stealing from the elderly?

ANSWER- Sorry, the answer is NO again. No matter how heinous their crimes, all the court officials enjoy and are protected by absolute judicial immunity. The court officials including the judges are accountable to no one.

OUESTION- What can we do?

ANSWER- Thank you for asking! So many things must be done to correct this atrocity but we need to start somewhere.

#1 Demand that all guardianship hearings are UNsequestered.

#2 Demand that severe penalties including jail time and disbarment are imposed on the miscreant court officials who exploit our loved ones.

#3 Read everything you can about the national crisis of Judicial Elder Abuse. Educate yourselves. Be aware, beware, or be there. The preeminentent national advocates for guardianship reform are Marcia Southwick who administrates “Boomers Against Elder Abuse”, Elaine Renoir’s website, “National Association To Stop Guardianship Abuse” (NASGA) and Dr. Sam Sugar’s web and Facebook pages,” Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship” (AAAPG).

#4 Plead with The Albuquerque Journal to create a section to cover these guardianship / conservatorship stories, the good and the bad.
The advocates have admirably done their part. It is now time for the media to take charge. It is time for the media to investigate the corruption in New Mexico’s elder law / for profit guardian /conservator racket. It is time for the media to expose this hidden, black hearted, white collar, social atrocity for the scandal that it is. The time is ripe for the media to thrust guardian / conservatorship fraud and abuse into the spotlight and make the need for it’s reform a hot button political issue.

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:35 am

Catherine Falk responds:

“This is the most powerful description of what victims go through that I have ever heard and read and speaks to what far too many people go through in many cases! Thank you for your wisdom and heartfelt words!”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:36 am

ABQ Journal Reader Julie Lynne Belshe writes:

“My Parent’s were conscripted into a private “for hire” guardianship for 22 months. With alot of self taught legal libraries and endless nights of staying home I got their rights restored. They still keep on continuing to delay the hearing about the private guardian being responsible for giving them back their life savings, car, and other personal assets. To let people free from being a ward is wonderful but to have to be without your long life belongings and wanting to just enjoy their lives is also inhumane and shouldn’t be legal. Nothing about legal guardianship is legal. We must continue to fight like hell to make a change for the generations to come and the wards that have no voice! Fight on!!!! “

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:38 am

Reader Vida Amaral writes:

“Diane Dimond, “Elder guardianship aims to bilk more than help”. Great article on the national crisis of abusive ISOLATION and alianating and exploitation of Guardianship.
We are in Massachusetts. It is cruel what is being done to our elderly in the second court appointed Guardianship of our mother, she remains blocked and isolated from more than half of her family, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Guardians are not following the wards best interests, but their financial gains.
My state does not have anything in the books of law to stop abusive ISOLATION. The courts and Judge are powerless of the power tripping of Guardians and even my sister.
The way it is right now in my state.
You can take into your home an elderly mom or dad or even disabled person, then place do not trespass orders to anyone that you do not wish to enter your wise. For example, I was legal co-guardian and co-trustee. My own sister after our dad died she did this to our mom.
What a clever way of Isolation. Pretty much it is your house, you get the money for renting out a corner of your house and cash in the trust with the Guardians.
The Guardians then start alianating the family and contributed to so family distress.
It is hell, it is a nightmare. The Guardians do not care to drag a frail elderly around town to visit her children. What a despicable way to treat our 82 year old mom.
It is all about the money. What saddens me is this can be done and we can not get any relief without legislation such as the Catherine Falk Organization with NASGA. Thank you for this great article.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:39 am

ABQ Journal Reader Flora Padilla writes:

“I am a shareholder of “Juan Tafoya Land Corporation” I have been fighting for the shareholder rights for over 7 years. This lawyer also a guardenship for the state in the state of NM became the lawyer for JTLC he plays the same game. Divided the families so he could get control.
too long to explain-but I wanted to let you know that he has done so much damage to the corporation.
My story is very similar to all this stories, these lawyer came me and has ripped the shareholders of their dividends by hiring Geneologist and changing the by-laws to fit his agenda. This corporation was extablished in 1976 we have been shareholders since 1976. We are paying two lawyers a giant amount to protect the rights of the shareholders. So much money wasted on something that should not have be allowed to go to court for the same issue over and over again! We won in court-he has appealed-because he won’t stop-until he takes everything and destroys all that was there.
But when these lawyer smells money he is there.
Thank you! for caring for the helpless people!”
Reverend Flora Padilla from Albuquerque, NM 87105

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:40 am

Reader Doug Franks writes:

“My name is Douglas Franks and I’m fighting to FreeErnestine.com.
This is the New Legal Human Ownership in America and it must be exposed. Please see the following link https://youtu.be/dKiRdw5GTBA

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

Reader Coz Whitten-Skaife writes:

“Here is the story written about my family also in PA. Thank you for bringing this tradgedy to light. I also thank Michael Volpe for writing this story. (below) Today Harvey has been put away in a hospice away from his family to die alone. It’s so sad what has happened. The whole family had wanted him to move to WIsconsin to be with my family where we could have given him the love and care he deserved.”

http://rebelpundit.com/guardianship-abuse-spreads-to…/

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:45 am

Reader Kathleen Dunn writes:

“I never heard of guardianship until I received notice for a competency hearing for my mother. My mother was forced into guardianship despite having family members willing and able, she did not receive due process, by never receiving notice herself of the hearing. One of the examing committee doctors declared my mother incapacitated despite not examing her. My mother only had mild dementia but was put under plenary guardianship. She was forced out of her home she owed free and clear, to live in a below standard facility against her will,, where she was denied everything she was entitiled to according to Florida Statutes. She was denied ocular, dental (all her top teeth fell out due to neglect from her professional guardian), her visits were severely restricted and so were phone calls. My mother never left the facility in over 3 1/2 years except for trips to the hospital. She was drugged all day long, many times into a stupor. All her money that was suppose to be spent for her care, instead went to her unscrupulous professional guardian 70 to 85.00 hourly, 300.00 for the guardian’s attorney and for the facility, nothing for my mother. The guardian even hired another attorney to fight her removal ( 6,000) with my mother’s money but my mother could not have anything, not even the simple pleasures of life. My mother cried and begged to be with me but her pleas to the guardian and the court monitor were ignored. I told them to keep all my mother’s money but just let my mother go. They were determined to torture my mother. I was threatened with no visitation if I kept speaking out. We were one hearing away from getting the guardian removed when my mother went into the hospital and died. My mother was put into hospice without consulting me or my brother. This all seemed to convenient. I believe my mothers health deteriorated due to the torture she endured by her professional guardian. Criminals in prison are treated better than she was. My mother and many like her need protected from their so-called professional guardians. Guardianship is a disgrace.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:47 am

Reader Shenanigans in the Montgomery County PA Courthouse writes:

” With so many records sealed, it’s probably indicative of shady dealings of the court. Here is a link to the types of court records that might be seen in NM if they were available for viewing.” https://www.facebook.com/ShenanigansinMontcoPA/

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:48 am

Reader Rich Davis writes:

“The real issue is local law enforcement doesn’t know and therefore cannot enforce the law. All persons over 18 can have any visitors they want. A business such as a convenice store can ask law enforcement to remove an unwanted person. But an Assisted Living Facility or guardian cannot. This is becuase the elder even if they are a ward retains that right.

Yes there is abuse in guardianship. But if the existing laws were actually followed the bulk of that abuse would end. Adding new civil laws to a system that already doesn’t follow existing laws will do nothing but provide another avenue to bleed down the estate.

Many of the abuses being committed are in violation of existing criminal laws. Law enforcement policies need to include these violations so that a beat officer responding to a complaint of isolation, elder abuse, etc can open the agencies policy manual and clear see that the activity being reported is criminal in nature. A warning from the responding officer that the reported activity is criminal in nature and if not stopped will result in prosectution will stop the bulk of the abuse before it even happens.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:49 am

ABQ Journal Reader Marcia Southwick Creator, Administrator at Boomers Against Elder Abuse writes:

“Thank you for bringing the problems of the guardianship system to light. When ward lose their rights, due to having been deemed incapacitated (not a perfect science), those rights are put into the hands of another person, either a family member, or a total stranger appointed by the court. This is a drastic civil solution, causing the imbalance of power becomes a risk for abuse. Wards no longer have a say in what happens to their property, or any of their belongings. (Where does all the money go? Many families don’t know and are kept out of the loop by courts.) Questions about impropriety go unanswered and unaddressed. Wards lose their freedom, their houses are often sold off below market, and they can be placed in facilities against their will and the will of their families. They can be restricted from seeing family members who are deemed “dangerous” by the guardian. But again, these are subjective terms sometimes not substantiated by real proof. Many professional guardians are good, but those who aren’t need to be held accountable. Unfortunately guardians are not properly monitored, and although many are certified and expected to live up to National Guardianship Association standards, the simple fact is that on the ground, ethics taught in classes don’t necessarily translate into ethical people in practice. This is true in every professional field. We know that there are many guardianships gone wrong from the complaints we receive each and every day at the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, and Boomers Against Elder Abuse. We are hoping to pass a bill in New Mexico next year that bolsters wards’ rights to be treated more fairly. So far, the profession itself, throughout the country, seems to be fighting against changing the playing field to a more even one.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:50 am

Reader Elaine Renoire
Guardianship abuse is a growing problem nationally. In fact, guardianship has been well known for years in the legal world as “the dirtly little legal secret.” Fortunately, media has been reporting these cases and the dirty little legal secret is not a secret anymore; still dirty, though — but awareness is growing.

Thank our lucky stars that not all guardians are bad and not every guardianship is abusive or unlawful. But, when they are, the cases are devastating; families are ripped apart; and the scars never heal.

Join the national movement for reform of unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships. Join NASGA!”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 11:52 am

Facebook Friend Bill Lord writes:

“This is very sad and disturbing.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Alpena News Reader Anonymous writes:

“Dear Ms. Dimond,

I am an attorney in northern Michigan, and I have a client in Alpena, Michigan that is struggling with many of the issues you raised in two recent articles of your that were printed in the Alpena News. My client is an elder woman, who doesn’t have a computer, but she wanted me to pass along to you that your articles resonated loud and clear for her in the small town of Alpena, Michigan.

On behalf of Ms. N., thank you for your reporting.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 12:47 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Dr. Sheri A. Benischek writes:

“Diane:

I have personally experienced this terrible series of events in Albuquerque DIstrict Court in July, 2014 when my father lay dying. My toxic sister, 9 years older and living out of state(since 1999) had infrequently come to see her father, who she hated and didn’t even attend his funeral, lied at District Court, through a very nasty and incompetent atty here in ABQ, Bruce Puma, that she didn’t know who had POA for my father. She had slept at my father’s house in March and May of that year (2014) and very well knew that I had been assigned those duties. She had been sent all the legal paperwork verifying my position as POA from my father’s lawyer in years prior to her actions. My father had a complex trust and an LLC for his company. If there were any questions regarding POA, all Puma had to do was call my father’s attorney’s office to find out pertinent information. Fortunately my father passed away before the hearing was to take place. The Court appointed a temporary guardian and my sister was attempting to gain control of my father’s LLC as well. As you know, these Court proceedings are sealed so I have not been able to review what was submitted but I hope to eventually.
Because of my father’s family business, I am unable to cut myself off from my sister or I would. I am managing the family’s oil and gas business and will fight her forever. My parents were beside themselves with my sister for most of her life, as she is mentally sick, although not declared that.

I watched my father lay in hospice with a court appointed guardian here in ABQ who didn’t even know who my father was. Her name is Angela Walker and she is also a gold digger. I never net her and I never answered the phone when she called to inform me my father had passed away.

I will be filing action at the NM Bar Assoc against Puma, as he made statements in emails about me which were quite derrogatory, such as my competence being questioned. I was a tenured professor of education at the College of Santa Fe for 12.5 years before losing my job with all the other professors in spring, 2009, at which time I became my father’s primary caregiver.

One line I have penned since all of these events is “A trust is only as good as the people you trust.” I attended grief sessions for awhile and am amazed at how many elderly people truly believe they have “their ducks in a row” with regard to final end-of-life decisions.

Thank you again for your op-ed to the Journal. I look forward to hearing from you. You are helping the public become aware of what can and does happen with the elderly.

Sincerely,
Dr. Sheri A. Benischek
Albuquerque

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Twitter Pal kalidevi writes:

“What I can add to this will blow your minds…it’s a nationwide epidemic. Thank you @DiDimond @EndElderAbuse // sadly, NC has serious issues in this department as well.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Twitter Pal dannyantwi1 writes:

“@DiDimond.It’s unfortunate how most of us have lost our humanity,we’ve become callous,we forget we all gonna be old if we don’t die early.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Twitter Pal SmawtAss writes:

“@DiDimond So sad. Even worrisome. It happ 2 my aunt, they went thru all her $ til she had 0 left then shuffled her off 2 low inc facility // Even in hospital, if u dont have family there overseeing ur care & ur 2 weak 2 battle u can get run over.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Twitter Pal AliceVantrease writes

“@DiDimond Bravo for highlighting this problem.”

Reply

Diane Dimond March 2, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Facebook Friend Peggy Mishoe writes:

“I am so very angry after reading this.”

Reply

Susan A Bennett March 5, 2016 at 4:47 pm

From Albuquerque Journal Reader, Susan A Bennett
Thoughts on Diane Dimond’s Column, February 27, 2016.
My many years of social work in the field of guardianship involved hundreds of cases of neglected or exploited elders with advancing dementia. Some had no family. Some were victimized by family or others. The goal under guardianship was protection and help to manage daily life as they would have but now could not. Guardianship is a last resort option, to help people who are unknowingly at grave risk.
Some family members were wonderful but could not help their parent due to distance or other issues. But sometimes family so upset the person under guardianship that visits were supervised, or there were none at all. The guiding principle: the vulnerable person’s well being, given their confusion and diminished emotional coping skills.
Guardians need to be ethical, compassionate and tireless, capable of complex decision making, and firm advocacy. They need training: available here through the state guardianship manual and videos; at conferences; and through the National Guardianship Association.
Elders may communicate adequately and yet may have lost the complex mental ability to carry out tasks to avoid risk. Neuropsychological or other medical review is needed to assess the level of mental functioning.
It is very stressful to have a guardian appointed. Our laws strongly favor individual rights, and can conflict with laws to protect the vulnerable.
So, do we just abandon people to unsafe personal decline: mis-taking medications; poor nutrition; risky hygiene; letting strangers in; frequent trips alone to the ER; frequent confused calls to the police? Deciding to protect someone in dangerous decline is a serious but compassionate step.
Knowing now that we may live longer than our grandparents, we need to plan ahead, giving health and financial powers of attorney to a trustworthy person; giving up driving when not safe; planning to accept personal care as needed; deciding to live at home with care or in assisted living (writing a “residential directive”); and importantly, planning how to pay for our chosen scenario.
We can no longer, in conscience, just leave it to the next generation.

Reply

Mary Bush March 10, 2016 at 10:05 am

The Flood gate is open and stories of horror from the abusive use of laws that were originally meant to help the indigent are now being used to liquidate estates not being told enough on how this act upon our elderly is also claiming lives . My mother Genevieve Bush in PENNSYLVANIA also is a victim of guardianship. She has been illegally and unconstitutionally forced into a court, who clairvoyantly backdated her incapacitated SIX years, never once allowing my mother a single day in court, stripping her of every legally drafted document she put into place to protect herself from this very thing. My mother’s story is a heart wrenching story of a vulnerable elder who lost her husband then became under full blown attack for her assets. My mother has endured the unthinkable of a court assigning a guardian who sexually assaulted her, aids stealing from her home, guardians isolating her, guardians billing her estate into near extinction, being abducted by the state without any due process and still lives in an incarceration into a nursing home where she is denied even medical care. My mom has been forced to live reclined into a geri chair, then padded in so she could not move till they broke her that she will never walk again, her dentures are taken and she is forced fed mush that is half cornstarch, She has had a fractured leg that was not cared for till a week later when I demanded she go to the hospital, the person hell she lives on an hour to hour basis is inhumane. I have lost my life’s saving in hiring attorneys who could do nothing but billed me out of a future. I was forced by a court to pay for an attorney for my mother, surrender our home, surrender my vehicle for a court fine which there are many if you stand up for your rights. Guardianship Laws are being abused because there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY. We have to expose this crime and either abolish guardianships or write bills that hold judges, lawyers, guardians and anyone who violates any US citizen of their Constitutional rights and liberties accountable. Every Judge, lawyer and public official has a sworn DUTY to uphold the law of our land and if they don’t they are NOT held accountable or removed from their position of trust. My mother is from the greatest generation who made great wealth from nothing and she is now in the full grips of a slow death by guardianship physically, mentally and financially. Diane Diamond take stories like my mother’s and run with it, we all have the right to live free from this court inflicted ABUSE.

Reply

Mary Reinhardt April 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Dear Ms. Dimond,

Thank you for bringing this to light. The next question/step is how do we get laws changed so this stops? Thank you very much!

Mary

Reply

Sam Sugar, M.D. April 22, 2016 at 8:51 am

We are fighting hard to expose this criminal but LEGAL activity.
Everyone has their own take on how to tackle this racket, but
until the judges can beheld accountable for the harm they do the predatory lawyers and guardians will remain unleashed to do their worst.

Reply

Robert Harper October 26, 2016 at 2:47 am

I lost today in Pa Superior Court. Saw Mary Bush there also. Guardianship is pure hell. People are not even pigs. What ever happened to our country, our judicial system. This country needs a purge. I may not see it but someday it will come. Thank you everyone for writings about criminal guardianship

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: