Friday, March 7, 2008

Financial Abuse of the Elderly

A Detective's Case Files Of Exploitation Crimes

by Joe Roubicek

The author is a Florida detective recognized as an expert investigator of exploitation crimes who presents 11 shocking and factual investigations. He dispels the myths of this misunderstood crime while providing specific and practical prevention advice.... How to recognize exploitation, expose exploiters and help them to incriminate themselves....Easy legal steps to take to prevent someone from emptying an elders bank accounts if they should lose mental capacity...How to protect yourself while you still can.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How can this happen?

Daniel Gross, a senior citizen from New York, took a drive to Connecticut and found himself in the worst nightmare of his life.

See also: Connecticut Conservatorship

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Client Saved from Guardianship Abuse

GBLS Elder Law Unit Saves Client
from Guardianship Abuse

In November 2006, 74-year-old “Grace Carr” was taken to a Boston hospital suffering from stress related heart problems. Hospital staff wanted to perform surgery, but Mrs. Carr told them her primary care doctor had previously advised her that surgery could further jeopardize her health.

Without notifying Mrs. Carr, the hospital filed a petition for a guardian to make a decision about the surgery, accompanied by a medical certificate indicating mental illness, but without any specifics. The judge granted the motion without any further evidence or findings.

While in the hospital, Mrs. Carr was not given her clothing, nor her purse and wallet. She contacted GBLS for help and was assigned to an Elder Law Unit attorney who intervened on her behalf after the guardian had been appointed, preventing the surgery.

Mrs. Carr was then sent to a nursing home, despite expressing a strong preference for returning home, and even though a Boston elder protective services agency was willing to provide home care services. She remained in the nursing home against her will and without access to her personal belongings for close to 3 months.

With GBLS’ help, Mrs. Carr filed an objection to the guardianship petition and a motion for an independent competency evaluation, that found her to be competent. Her primary care doctor also documented that she was quite capable of making informed medical decisions. On the basis of this evidence, the hospital agreed to dismiss the underlying guardianship petition.

This story does not end there.

For more information and source: GBLS Newsletter

The article also states : GBLS and our partners will continue to fight for guardianship reform on behalf of the many seniors like Mrs. Carr who are the victims of the current procedures.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) provides free civil (non-criminal) legal assistance to low-income people in Boston and thirty-one additional cities and towns.
Greater Boston Legal Services

See also: Massachusetts Senior Citizens

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Public Guardian of San Mateo

The Case of John Donovan - Nevada

I had been dad's Power of Attorney and executor for well over a decade. I was also successor trustee of his trust. Dad had been very meticulous and thought that he had everything sewn up. He had done what all of the lawyers suggested. His estate was in order....or so he thought.

The Public Guardian of San Mateo Co, Ca. became involved due to sibling disagreements, resulting in temp guardianship being granted to the Public Guardian. My brother had a change of heart, and told the judge there had been a misunderstanding, and he now supported me 100% as dad’s guardian. We thought the nightmare of the temporary conservatorship was now over and I would be appointed dad's guardian.

All of dad's family and friends agreed that I should be his guardian, and that the Public Guardian should relinquish their hold on dad. After all, they got involved because of a family squabble, and now it had been resolved amicably. The law states that family should be appointed first. If no family was able, then the Public Guardian could be appointed only as a LAST resort.

That wasn't the case however. They already had their claws into his estate and had seized all of his assets. They wanted their 3% bounty from his estate which they receive yearly.

Dad told the judge he wanted me as his guardian. The judge told dad he could travel back to NV as soon as the Public Guardian got a second opinion stating it was safe to travel. That was Jan. 2005. The second opinion should have taken no longer than two weeks. Dad stated the Public Guardian was stalling until they could permanently conserve him. They were charging him 15k per month just for care giving services. Dad could not stay in his home for long with those outrageous charges being taken from him monthly. I doubt many seniors would.

In April, my brother received notice from the doctor that dad was cleared for travel. He brought dad, and I accepted him into my home. Upon returning to dad’s home, my brother was arrested. I believe they were so angry because their plan to permanently conserve dad and sell his home at auction while keeping their portion of proceeds plus their yearly 3% of his estates worth was foiled.

Dad's permanent conservatorship hearing was scheduled for April of 2005 - the same month that my brother brought him back to me. It is highly unlikely he would have been allowed to travel so close to the date of his hearing, so it is quite apparent that their plan was to force dad to stay in California until after his hearing and then not allow him to leave the state.

After two years of fighting the Public Guardian, I am finally dad’s guardian in Nevada, but all of the money that the Public Guardian was entrusted to protect is now gone. The Public Guardian and their lawyer took ~ 60k from dad for "services" rendered for just one year, and we have just been informed that they plan to take the rest for the second accounting, so there will be nothing left to send to dad for his care.

In two years time, they haven’t spent one dime for his care, medicine, food, etc. My family has paid everything out of pocket with no reimbursement.

See also:
Conservatorships can be sadly messy

Monday, March 3, 2008

Guardianship Statistics

Aging Trends:

*In 2003, 12 percent of the total population of the United States, almost 36 million people, was 65 years of age and over.

*Over the 20th century, the older population grew from 3 million to 35 million. The seriously old population (age 85 and older) grew from just over 100,000 in 1900 to 4.2 million in 2000.

*The Baby Boomers (those citizens born between 1946 and 1964) will start turning 65 in 2011, and the number of older people will increase dramatically during the 2010-2030 period.

*The older population in the year 2030 is projected to be twice as large as in the year 2000, growing from 35 million to 71.5 million and representing 20 percent of the total U.S. population.

(Federal Inter Agency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. November 2004)

The United States Census Bureau has declared that by the year 2020, the sixty-five and above group will be the largest segment in America. By the year 2030 there will be more elderly Americans than young ones. In terms of percentage of growth, the “seriously old” – individuals over the age of eighty-five – currently form the fasted growing population group in the United States.

It stands to reason that the increasing elder population as well as the increased disbursement of families across the globe will lead to increased need for guardianships.
See also: Aging Stats 2004 Data and Aging Stats Main Site

Guardianship Statistics:

Basic data on guardianship is scarce. This scarcity makes reform more difficult. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the dearth of statistical data limits oversight and reform efforts. The demographic trends noted above highlight the need for uniform consistent guardianship data, as those trends will account for an increased number of guardianships in coming years.

Few studies are available about guardianship, specifically in reference to individuals with disabilities. Those studies that have been conducted examined a limited range of guardianship issues.

For example, some studies examined the characteristics of the individuals involved in the process as it affects the elderly (Bulcroft et al., 1991; Friedman & Senage, 1988; Lisi et al., 1994); use of alternatives to guardianship (Iris, 1986; Lisi et al.); and individual state guardianship practices (O'Sullivan & Hoffman, 1995; Spring, Dubler & Garginlo, 1990). In 1987, the Associated Press (AP) investigated 2,200 guardianship files from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to obtain information on elderly wards and the guardianship process (AP, 1987). During the early 1990s, the National Center for Social Gerontology explored guardianship practices of 10 states. This national study also focused its attention exclusively on the elderly (The Center for Social Gerontology, 1994; Lisi et al.).

The Center for Social Gerontology had reported to the U.S. Administration on Aging in 1992 its estimate of court imposed guardians to be between 500,000 and 1,250,000. Since then, it is widely believed that the number of adult guardianships has doubled, if not quadrupled. The numbers are impossible to quantify because individual states themselves do not know how many aging adults they have agreed to “protect.”
See also: Factors Affecting Guardianship Practices

Adult Guardianship:

The National Center on Elder Abuse charged the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging to conduct an exploratory survey of adult guardianship. They found the following:

1. Over one-third of responding state court administrative offices (34 percent) receive from trial courts reports on filings and dispositions for adult guardianship of the person and/or property as a distinct case type, but close to two-thirds (66 percent) do not.

2. Less than a fifth of responding state court administrative offices receive from trial courts reports of filings and dispositions for guardianship of the person only (19.1 percent); and just over a quarter of the offices receive reports for guardianship of the property (conservatorship) only (25.5 percent).

3. State court administrative offices do not receive from trial courts information on adult guardianship beyond the number of filings and dispositions.

4. Only five states reported that elder abuse is a distinct case type reported by trial courts to state court administrative offices, and a few additional states may receive such data in the future.

5. Over two-fifths (44.7 percent) of responding state court administrative offices indicated that they are interested in compiling data—or additional data—on adult guardianship, conservatorship, and elder abuse, but named substantial barriers.

6. A few local courts are planning for or demonstrating data collection practices that may assist other courts grappling with data collection issues.

They concluded the following:

* There is no state-level guardianship data for the majority of the reporting states. For states that do receive such data, comparison may be limited by differing definitions and coding.

* Data reported to state court administrative offices is limited to filings and dispositions.

* There is no data on a range of elements that would be critical for guardianship research and reform efforts. Whether, and to what extent, such data is maintained at the local court level is not known.

* Additional data beyond filings and dispositions may have two related purposes:

(1) enhancing case processing and strengthening oversight of guardians; and
(2) supporting broader guardianship research and reform efforts. Courts may be more apt to collect data for the former than the latter.

* There is almost no data on elder abuse as a distinct case type, reflecting a larger lack of elder abuse data nationally.

* While many states express interest in collecting additional information on guardianship and elder abuse, the burden to local courts, the need for standardized definitions, and the cost of technology are significant barriers.

* Isolated promising practices in some areas offer potential.

*Major investment in court technology, training, and standardized definitions is required to secure data for effective guardianship case management, as well as enabling courts, policymakers, and practitioners to move toward strengthening the guardianship system and preventing elder abuse.
See also: NCEA Guardianship Data


Those who find themselves in the hands of unwanted guardians or conservators are not criminal, they are not mentally ill, they are not incompetent. They are asset-rich and old.

George Alexander and Travis Lewin, authors of The Aged and the Need for Surrogate Management put it this way:

The fault lies with the system created by the law. We define the condition of incompetency in a way in which psychiatrists can give no meaningful assistance and then abrogate the decision-making power to medicine. We devise a system which operates only at the initiation of those who stand to gain by imposition of the procedure and then ignore competing interests which causally follow. We draft a procedure that insures a speedy institution of incompetency but fails to provide an equally expeditious method for restoration. We design a system of surrogate management in the belief that mischief will befall the un-managed assets of the so-called mentally ill. Then we leave the determination of inauguration of incompetency in the hands of those benefiting from its continuation, magically believing that the basic beneficence of man will overcome his self interest and greed.
See also: Syracuse Law: Travis H. D. Lewin