Saturday, May 17, 2008

Connecticut Probate Judges

There is problem in Connecticut....

Daniel Gross, an eighty-six-year-old resident of New York, went to a Connecticut hospital for treatment of leg problems and ended up, as a result of a conservator’s appointment, a locked ward of a nursing home where he unnecessarily remained for almost ten months. During that time, Gross charges that his assets were dissipated:
Connecticut Conservatorship

How Can This Happen?

Maydelle Trambarulo's expected 30 to 60 stay in Connecticut lasted over three years:
Losing Control: Bringing Maydelle Home

Fox 5 Investigates: Guardian Abuse

Judith Desautell was forced into a nursing home, and her house was sold to pay for it. Her things were thrown out, her cat was taken to the pound and only 10 garbage bags of her belongings were kept—a haphazard collection of clothes (no shoes, no coats), a dead plant and some material scraps: Losing Control

If you are elderly and you are driving through or visiting relatives in Connecticut and become sick, Official Connecticut wants to rip you and your heirs off:
It is unsafe for Americans to live or even drive through Connecticut

The as-yet unsuccessful push to substantially reform the state's Probate Court system in the past has been propelled by studies showing parts of it to be inefficient, inequitable and, in some cases, unprofessional:
Probate woes becoming expensive, too

A phalanx of court-appointed lawyers — acting on her behalf and on her dime — is fighting 88 year old Rose Quattro and desire to live her remaining days with her son. "Some criminals receive better treatment than Quattro":
Shameful Abuse Of Probate

Alarmed German authorities are asking for an investigation into how Margot Claus, a German Citizen, was taken from New York and moved to Connecticut. A probate court judge in February named a North Haven woman, Linda Eger, conservator of Claus' sizable estate:
Probate Abuses Yet Again

Death and taxes are said to be the two things in life that are inevitable but in Connecticut you can add going through the probate court system as well. The system is running out of money and if someone in your family dies in the near future, you will probably pay more because of it:
Calls to revamp probate system in state

When citizens of our state ask me about Connecticut probate, I give this simple advice: Try not to die in Connecticut:
The Scandal of Connecticut's Probate Courts

According to an article about Daniel Gross who was placed in a Connecticut conservatorship even though he had no legal connection to Connecticut, a Yale Law School professor had this to say:

"The probate system rewards the judges' pals."

"These courts are venal and disgraceful."

"These aren't real judges."

"These people have no training or background in the procedures and evidence appropriate to ventilating issues of liberty."

Judge Bars CPS

A San Antonio judge has blocked state Child Protective Services from removing a mother from a polygamous sect from her infant son when he turns a year old.

The temporary restraining order keeps Lori Jessop and her son together. Mothers from the sect with children younger than a year have been allowed to stay with them, but older children have been taken from their mothers and placed in foster care.

The woman had been held along with more than 400 children taken last month from a West Texas ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. State officials say the children were endangered by underage and polygamous spiritual marriages.

Judge bars CPS from removing child from polygamous mother

More about the FLDS raid by Texas CPS:

Timeline of West Texas polygamist custody battle

Judge: CPS can't separate toddler from FLDS parents

Moms may have to choose between kids, polygamist religion

Polygamous sect fathers demand judge return seized kids

Polygamist sect teen who gave birth is adult, Texas CPS says

Fallout from FLDS raid is intense

Friday, May 16, 2008

Time to Talk

"Baby boomers and their aging parents often shy away from discussions about money, estate planning and health care."

Denial, busy lives and reluctance to confront difficult issues keep many families from having these discussions, elder-care experts say. Parents can see their children's efforts to broach such topics as attempts to take control, while the adult children may shy away from intruding into their parents' lives. Money issues can be particularly touchy. So both sides put off asking and answering questions.

"Often it's, 'We're going to get around to it someday,' " said Marty Richards, a Seattle social worker and geriatric-care manager with 32 years' experience in aging issues. "Then the crisis comes and they're not ready."

Beth Witrogen McLeod knew something was wrong when she stepped into her parents' Wichita, Kan., home. Her mother smelled bad and her clothes were dirty. The normally immaculate house was cluttered and filthy, the floor spotted with food stains. McLeod later realized her mother, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease and early-stage dementia, had been trying to bring food to her cancer-stricken husband but often lacked the strength to handle the tray.

Thus began McLeod's yearlong struggle to care for her parents, an experience that wiped out her savings and that of her once-successful mother and father. Only death spared the elderly couple from bankruptcy; they died within weeks of each other after being moved to a nursing home. Because of poor planning, life insurance proceeds and retirement savings that could have gone to McLeod went to pay creditors and lawyers' fees.

Source: Time to Talk - LA Times

Bay Area resident McLeod, who wrote about her experience in the new book "Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal", knows now that at least some of the emotional and financial pain could have been spared had her family discussed some important issues of aging: estate planning, health care and dealing with incapacity.

For years, Beth Witrogen McLeod was the moderator for the AARP Caregivers Online Support Group. She provided direct and sensitive answers to some of the most difficult questions a family member or caregiver could ask, demonstrating a unique understanding of the challenges of Alzheimer's disease and the issues caregivers face.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Investigators: The Power of One: A Call For Change

When it comes to demanding change, there is power in numbers. And a Fox 9 Investigation has inspired a number of people to demand changes in the laws that allow strangers to take control of their loved ones lives.

One of those people is a conservator named Sheila Gast. After our report on Gast in February, more people wrote in urging us to continue to investigate her for the financial and emotional heartaches they say she's caused families.

Trish Van Pilsum reports.

My Fox Twin Cities

See also:
Investigators: The Power of One

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Too Sick for Court?

The late Brooke Astor's octogenarian son missed a Manhattan court date because of an undisclosed illness that required treatment at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Fred Hafetz, the lawyer for 83-year-old Anthony Marshall, 83, said doctors told Marshall to stay in his upper East Side home for the next few weeks.

Marshall is charged with looting the estate of his mother who died last year.

Brooke Astor's son too sick for estate-loot court date

More on the Brooke Astor guardianship abuse case:

Socialite Brooke Astor Abused by Son, Grandson Says

Astor Case Sheds Light On Issue of Elder Abuse

Court filing claims Brooke Astor lives in squalor

Socialite Brooke Astor victim of elder abuse

Socialite Brooke Astor's son relinquishes guardianship

Heiress Astor's son removed as guardian

Son of NY socialite charged with robbing estate

Son of Astor Is Said to Face Criminal Case

Son of Famed Socialite-Philanthropist Indicted

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Jersey Guardianship

"Title 3B of the New Jersey State Code was altered as recently as 2006 in an effort to consolidate the definition and principles of guardianship to permit a greater degree of independence for those of decreased capacity. Despite these recent revisions, the New Jersey guardianship process is yet in dire need of further reform."

Danielle Diodato, Political Science, Monmouth University

More from the article:
Individuals are not promised the liberty of another day. When life takes an unexpected turn individuals are often forcibly stripped of their right to self-determination, leaving them at risk, defenseless, and susceptible to the thrashing of exploitation. For this reason, relatives and friends of the mentally incompetent find themselves in a guardianship dispute, struggling to decide who is the most suitable individual to govern the affairs of the incapacitated person. The guardianship process is sorely abused and misused, yet proves to be an extremely vital option that is meant to provide a steady flow of relief for the mentally incompetent and his/her prospective guardian.

Guardianship in the state of New Jersey is governed by Title 3B, Chapter 12 of the New Jersey Permanent Statutes. Title 3B applies to all individuals for any reason of mental or physical incapacity. While the statutory framework for guardianship is extensive, Title 3B does not provide an accurate definition of guardianship as it pertains to those in need of specialized protective care. In fact, the terminology provided in Title 3B is exceptionally vague insofar as it utilizes several different sections throughout Chapter 12 to define the roles and responsibilities of guardians in the New Jersey guardianship process. In addition, the recent revision constituting the right to a trial by jury is extraordinarily controversial. In establishing this provision, the courts are denying full consideration of the ethical matters in determining an individual to be mentally incompetent. In essence, a perceived mentally incompetent person may not have the ability to determine whether or not a jury trial is necessary.

Title 3B of the New Jersey guardianship statute does not require that specialists in key areas of importance, such as political, social, and economic, have the ability to influence the extent to which an individual is determined to be mentally incompetent. While the statute has recently changed with regards to the incorporation of limited guardianship, without setting regulations as to how many times and what areas a licensed specialist is required to cover in a given meeting, the New Jersey court system is subjecting an entire population to grave injustice.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Caring For Our Seniors

In April 2008, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing called "Caring for Our Seniors: How Can We Support Those on the Frontlines?"

The hearing focused on issues related to family caregivers, workforce development and training for direct care workers and health care providers specialized in working with older adults.

Statement of Committee Member:

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman

Witness Testimony:

John Rowe, MD, Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY

Robyn Stone, DPH, Executive Director, Institute for the Future of Aging Services, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Washington, DC

Martha Stewart, Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia,New York, NY

Todd Semla, PharmD, President, American Geriatrics Society, Evanston, IL

Mary McDermott, Personal care worker and Board of Directors Member, Wisconsin Home Care Commission, Verona, WI

Sally Bowman, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Services, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR