A 75-year-old placed under the care of a public guardian after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a fall almost two years ago finally has won back his independence.
" 'It's all gone.' That's their classic answer: 'I'm sorry, it's all gone.' And they won't give me anything in writing," Schmidt said in September. "Everything's just disappeared."
The state placed Schmidt, a retired insurance salesman, in a $5,000-a-month assisted-living facility more than a year ago. He had had many of his civil rights stripped away after he fell and hit his head in Jan. 30, 2012, on the sidewalk outside his home here. A judge declared him mentally incapacitated and ordered the state public guardian to take charge of his assets and medical care under New Jersey's guardian laws.
But Schmidt said he fully recovered from his injuries in September 2012. The problem was getting the judgment of incapacity lifted; that happened Dec. 16.
In the meantime:
• His $65,000 in savings is gone.
• The townhouse that he owned mortgage free six miles from the assisted-living center is in foreclosure because of a reverse mortgage he previously had taken out.
• The property also has $5,960 lien against it for unpaid condominium maintenance fees.
• All of the utilities were turned off, presumably because of $1,700 in unpaid bills.
• Much of his furniture, his books and all his dishes and flatware are missing — sold off by the public guardian.
"This doesn't seem fair. Not that anything in life is fair, but it's sort of ridiculous," Schmidt said during his first visit back home last week, shortly after discovering that his computer was gone, too.
"It's unbelievable. I've spent my whole life building things up, and now I have to start over again — and this time with no money," he said.
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N.J. man free of guardianship he said he no longer needs