Monday, March 24, 2008

Unwanted Guardianship

Norman Baker is an American hero who has been detained against his will for more than three years.

His "crime": owning too much property. 

His sentence: a court-appointed guardianship on the brink of costing him everything he spent his life building.

His rights in this case: virtually none, significantly less in many ways than an actual law-breaking criminal. 

His future if this continues: long-term de facto imprisonment, followed by abject poverty, if he has anything left at all. 

Facts as reported:

He has been stripped of his right to vote and access to his own assets, which appear to have been well in excess of $1 million as little as three years ago.

Until he was placed in a nursing home against his will by the court-appointed attorney he is trying to reject, Norman Baker owned and managed two dozen rental properties, many of which he designed and built himself. He also owned a 33-acre farm, with four horses, an array of tractors and other heavy farm implements, a carefully preserved century-old barn, a restored farmhouse from which he drew steady rental income, and a 3,000-square-foot brick home, which he also designed and built.

Norman Baker also had some $250,000 in cash and liquid investments above and beyond his real estate holdings. He rented his properties and lived a quiet, private life.

Today, without writing a check or using a credit card or making a single bad investment, Norman Baker has less than $20,000 in cash.

Baker's court-appointed guardian was recently more than six months late in providing the court with a report on the status of Norman’s assets.

Robert Baker (brother) also charges that the attorney appointed by the court to be his brother's guardian sold his own personal antique tractor---inherited from his father---from his brother Norman's farm, and has never accounted for the proceeds.

Norman Baker's farm has also been stripped of many of its accouterments without a full accounting.

Norman Baker has continuously requested that he have input in to the property management of his estate. But he has been ignored.

At one point in his involuntary guardianship, a medical examiner hired at Norman's expense found him competent and recommended that he no longer need a guardian. But the attorney running Baker's guardianship refused to surrender control of Norman’s assets.

A Harvard-trained medical examiner has repeatedly tested Baker, who just turned 80. This doctor, whose most recent examination has been videotaped, has consistently found Baker competent to manage his own affairs and to hire his own professional help.

More than a year ago, a physician for the nursing home where Norman has been confined recommended that he be given an immediate discharge to the community. Baker walks three miles a day inside the home, and does his own laundry. He is dependent on no medications.

Judge Williams has repeatedly refused to vacate the guardianship.

Full Article and Source: How an unwanted guardianship cost a firefighter his freedom and his fortune

See also: Interview with Norman

No comments: