|Elizabeth Diana Indig reacts|
By Colton Lochhead
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Clark County‘s guardianship system, which has left thousands of elderly and mentally incompetent residents vulnerable to financial abuse, "isn‘t that bad," according to a man who has worked in "and financially benefited from" the system for over 35 years.
Three of the state‘s top judges don‘t share that view. They commissioned a Supreme Court panel aimed at fixing what they see as a troubled process that has seen some guardians drain hundreds of thousands of dollars from the accounts of elderly and mentally incompetent Nevadans.
Private Professional Guardian Jared Shafer caused an uproar during the 26-member panel‘s first meeting Wednesday in a courtroom at the Regional Justice System in Las Vegas. One woman shouted, "You used the money to pay lawyers!"
Many who attended the meeting stood in front of the group and explained that their family members who had been made wards of the county had been exploited by their guardians.
"The guardians are in control, and the family court is facilitating the fleecing of the wards by blindly rubber stamping anything they filed due to lack of personnel, time, research and oversight," said Elizabeth Indig, whose mother is in the middle of a guardianship dispute. "It should be that the court is in control and the guardians are the facilitators of the system."
Longstanding problems with the system that handles about 8,500 adult guardianship cases in Clark County each year were exposed in a series of Las Vegas Review-Journal articles published in April. Highlighted cases showed a lack of oversight by the courts, such as failing to require guardians to file annual accounts of wards‘ finances as required by state law.
Shafer appeared to take offense at comments about private guardians and also a Review-Journal article that highlighted the plight of one of his former wards, World War II veteran Guadalupe Olvera.
Those who have spoken out recently about guardianship issues are the "10 percenters who didn‘t get what they wanted," said Shafer, who was the Clark County public administrator and public guardian for more than 20 years before starting his private practice in 2003.
"I‘ve been doing this for 35 years," Shafer said. "And until a couple cases came up, there‘s never been a problem with the system."
After speaking, Shafer walked out of the court room.
Deputy Clark County District Attorney Jay Raman, who prosecutes most of the county‘s guardianship and elder exploitation cases, has seen evidence that contradicts Shafer‘s view.
Fees charged by private guardians, he said, deserve some focus. Statewide they range from about $40 to upwards of $250 an hour. (Continue Reading)
Full Article & Source:
Ex-official: guardianship system 'isn't that bad'