|ACCOUNT DRAINED: Aurora resident Diego Conde said half of the meager estate his mother left him was used to pay fees and expenses of a court-appointed guardian.|
DENVER — When Diego Conde’s mother died in 2008 she left him a modest $20,000 inheritance to help pay for school and other expenses. But since he wasn’t 18, the court appointed a guardian to oversee the estate.
By the time he turned of age, the money was gone and, he said, half went to expenses and compensation for the guardian.
“My college bills weren’t being paid on time, I got an eviction notice and there was no food,” Conde told a bipartisan group of lawmakers who are looking to draft a bill to rein in abuses by court-appointed receivers, guardians, trustees and conservators.
A group of two dozen Colorado residents, some wearing masks for fear of contempt citations for speaking out against judges and their appointed trustees, gathered Wednesday to suggest changes to state law.
“I know you guys are hurting, I know you want to tell your story and I know why,” state Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada, told the attendees.
Woods tried to pass a bill last session that would have allowed lawsuits against receivers and quick appeals for people who felt their receivers weren’t doing a proper job.
The bill failed after opposition by attorneys and the Colorado Judicial Branch.
At Wednesday’s meeting, participants suggested 50 different solutions, including having a non-judicial committee review cases when 10 percent of the estate is spent and preventing sales of assets for less than market value or to friends or family of court-appointed overseer.
“I’m not sure that’s not borderline criminal,” said Woods, reacting to stories of assets bought a bargain prices, apparently by relatives of a trustee.
Woods also said she is urging the state Attorney General’s office to look into cases in which people are forced onto Medicaid after their assets are drained by an overseer appointed by the court. It’s a process that could be costing taxpayers substantial money.
Conde, who lives in Aurora but was born in Colombia, said he didn’t know how to question the process or how severe the problem was until all the money was gone.
“I really depended on this lady and all my money was depleted,” he said.
Woods and state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, attended the meeting with staff. Woods said she hopes to have legislation drafted before the 2016 session.
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Lawmakers to take on receivership, probate abuse