Saturday, May 10, 2008

Court Work Overload

New laws that protect those who can't care for themselves from being bilked by conservators are swamping California's court system amid a lack of state funding that is forcing many courts to tap into already thin reserves to handle the increased workload.

The laws took effect last July and have nearly doubled the number of conservatorships the courts have to investigate each year - including 10,000 in Los Angeles County alone.

But last year the governor vetoed $17.4 million to fund the reviews amid a budget crunch, and legislators are recommending yet another delay in funding this year.

The result: Los Angeles County Superior Court is spending $30,000 a month in reserve funds on overtime and contract work to keep up with case reviews.

Courts grant conservatorships if an adult is ruled incapable of taking caring of themselves. Such rulings often give conservators vast power - including control of money, health decisions and living arrangements.

While most conservators treat their wards well, there have been cases in which a caretaker has taken advantage.

Los Angeles Superior Court had a severe backlog of conservatorship investigations even before the Omnibus Conservatorship and Guardianship Act last year forced courts to check up on each case every year rather than every two years.

Now, to comply with the law, the courts must fend for themselves - either by taking money from elsewhere or heaping extra duties on existing staff members.

Protective laws create court work overload

See also:
Guardianship Legislation

Friday, May 9, 2008

Probate Nightmare is Over

"A court-sanctioned kidnapping that should leave everyone in Connecticut appalled"

For the past three months, Margot Claus, a German citizen, has been detained by a court system that seems to know no boundaries.

Claus is a citizen of Germany and a resident of New York City. Probate court in Connecticut has no jurisdiction over her, let alone the right to take charge of her estate, now valued at more than $1 million.

You think you cannot just appropriate people from another state, remove their rights, take control of all their assets and slap them in a nursing home or hospital?

In Connecticut, this is possible — unless you're lucky enough, like Claus, to have devoted family and friends and a couple of smart lawyers who won't give in.

"This thing is scandalous, and it is on the record"

North Haven Probate Judge Michael Brandt freed Claus on Tuesday from the prison of conservatorship in Connecticut, allowing her to leave the state where she was brought in January by a distant relative.

Brandt seemed to realize the error of approving the bizarre conservatorship that North Haven resident Linda Eger [an obscure relative who sought to remove Claus from all connections to her previous life, including cutting off contact with lifelong friends] was quickly granted in February.

Full Article and Source:
Woman's Probate Nightmare Finally Over

Related article:
A Probate Case To Watch

See also:
More Connecticut Probate Abuse

Rick Green's column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at

Thursday, May 8, 2008

France is Released

Emma France can go back to California after a Jasper County probate judge set aside orders that made the 95-year-old former Carthage resident a ward of Rita Hunter, the county public administrator.

R. Lynn Myers, France's attorney, contended that orders making France a ward of the county were void because France was not allowed to appear or speak at the hearing in which the guardianship was ordered, and because her daughter or other relatives were not notified of the court proceeding in which she was put under county control.

Previously, kidnapping charges were filed against Delores Forste, France's daughter, and her husband after they took France, at her request, home with them to Needles, California. Forste was arrested at her home and spent two weeks in jail in California before being brought to Jasper County to face charges.

France has maintained throughout the dispute that her daughter and son-in-law acted at her request in taking her with them to live in California.

France's attorney said he and his client are looking forward to the federal case, referring to lawsuits France and Forste have filed against Hunter and her attorney John Podleski. The lawsuits seek damages, and contend that actions that made France a ward of the county violated her rights because, among other things, France was not allowed to attend the hearing and her family was not given notice of the hearing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Court Soliciting Comments

Tennessee Supreme Court Requests Comments on Proposed Guardian ad Litem Rule:

The Court is considering the adoption of a new Rule of the Supreme Court governing the appointment of guardians ad litem for minor children in divorce and post-divorce proceedings. The Court is soliciting written comments from judges, lawyers, bar associations, members of the public, and any other interested parties, concerning the proposed new rule.

Click here to see the Rule (PDF)

Click here to view comments (PDF)

The deadline for submitting written comments is June 30, 2008. Written comments should be addressed to:

Mike Catalano, Clerk
Tennessee Appellate Courts
100 Supreme Court Building
401 7th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37219-1407

Source: Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Conservatorship Scheme

From the Walt Disney masterpiece Beauty and the Beast:

Gaston intends to marry Belle but Belle rejects him. Gaston begins pouting about Belle's rejection. Lefou and some of the villagers cheer him and remind Gaston of how admired he is.

During the revelry, Maurice, Belle's father, arrives at the tavern in town, frantic and begging for help to rescue Belle from the Beast. But, no one takes him seriously, and Gaston has him thrown out.

When one of the villagers mentions that "crazy old Maurice, he's always good for a laugh," Gaston hatches an evil scheme, which he confides to Lefou.

The scheme:

Gaston summons Monsieur D'Arque, who runs the local insane asylum. Gaston explains that everyone knows Maurice is a lunatic who should be locked away, especially since his recent rantings about some Beast. However, if Belle consents to marry Gaston, Maurice could be freed from the Maison Des Lunes. Monsieur D'Arque gladly agrees to help Gaston by conserving Belle's father.

In real life, Conservatorship Schemes are happening every day in our country. Court appointed guardian's and their attorney's isolate the Ward in nursing homes and dissipate the estate monies in record time.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Granny Snatching

“Granny snatching” occurs when greedy guardians exploit elder or disabled family members by moving them to a state with laxer rules. Granny snatching laws vary drastically from state to state.

Colorado Senate Bill 100 creates uniform laws for Colorado’s oversight of guardianship. The Bill creates protections for seniors and disabled transported across state lines by greedy guardians.

“When grandma starts to show signs of memory loss, she may choose to sign over her bank accounts and estate to a trusted family member. Unfortunately, some people abuse this trust. This bill simply protects vulnerable populations from greedy guardians while making sure that well-intentioned family members can continue to make good decisions for their loved ones.”

The bill passed on a vote of 62 to 2 in the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

Source: Granny Snatchers Go Home

Utah has become the first state to adopt model legislation to untangle the interstate jurisdictional guardian issues that abet so-called "granny snatching'' and, more frequently, thwart well-meaning guardians who have to act in more than one state.

Source (subscription required):
Utah the first state to enact anti-'granny-snatching' law