Friday, July 25, 2008

The Cruelest Age

Once a dashing young couple that dressed to the nines and had a new car every year or six months, Louie and Lee are now old — 87 and 88. They have a house with a mortgage, two small pensions, Medicare and no real plan for their final years.

The years that once stretched out ahead of them have closed in tighter and tighter, slowly grinding them into a crisis they never saw coming.

Families all over have similar tales.

They’ve worked all their lives and never thought to ask for a handout. But they don’t have enough set aside to carry them through as their health care needs steadily and dramatically increase.

They have no plan for how to handle their assets as their mental functions dim.

Although they have family — in particular, a grandson who’s put his life on hold to help out — family members have their own lives and don’t have the expertise to handle serious medical issues.

Any one of those problems is tough.

Put them all together and add denial, guilt and emotional baggage, and caring for aging parents can be a thorny thicket.

Full Article and Source:
THE CRUELEST AGE: A local family confronts Alzheimer's, nursing home care

Louie and Lee Tessandori

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Investigators: The Power of One: Starting To Crack

The evidence is mounting as courts take action against a powerful conservator the FOX 9 Investigators have been telling you about for months. And now real change may not be far behind; change that may help your family if you ever need someone to take care of a parent or a child. Reporter Trish Van Pilsum has the details in this exclusive story on "The Power of One."

My Fox Twin Cities

See also:
Investigators: The Power of One: A Call For Change

Investigators: The Power of One

Public Guardian Replaced by Coroner

Janet Rivera suffered a heart attack in 2006. She's been on life support for for more than two years. Her condition got worse and she was admitted to community regional medical center.

Janet's husband, Jesus Rivera, was the public guardian. He was replaced by county coroner Dr. David Hadden.

Hadden says Jesus was not fit to be her guardian. Hadden seeked advice from 5 physicians. All agreed Rivera's situation was bad and said it would be best to remove Rivera from artificial life support saying her condition was "untreatable and irreversible".

The family disagreed and requested a temporary restraining order to keep life support measures in place.

Sanger Woman Stays on Life Support

A judge ruled that Fresno County must restore all medical needs to keep Janet Rivera alive.

The family took the case to court after the county guardian ordered Janet to be taken off life support. After 10 days without food or water, the guardian allowed food and water to resume. The judge ordered it to stay that way until further information about the case can be obtained.

Temporary Ruling Could Save Janet Rivera

See also:
Fresno County Has Change of Heart for Rivera

Elder Mistreatment

The disturbing stories surface in the news with too much frequency. The victims are elderly, and the abuse they face takes various forms. The insidious offenses, collectively known as elder mistreatment, are a pervasive, though still often overlooked, public health problem.

At its June Annual Meeting, the American Medical Association adopted policies to address this serious state of affairs. AMA House of Delegates endorsed policies encouraging physicians and other medical professionals to become more proactive in recognizing and treating seniors who may be victims.

The term elder mistreatment covers physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse and financial exploitation. The unifying feature across this spectrum is that its victims are unable to protect themselves. It occurs in both community and institutional settings and cuts across geographic, class, gender and racial lines. And often, the abuse gains public attention only after it is too late.

Full Article and Source:
Taking action toward prevention of elder mistreatment

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Battle with Probate and Bank

My mother and I share the same birthday, October 22, approximately 44 years apart. I was very close to both of my parents. When my father passed away in 1996, he left a sizable estate for my mother, and for the descendants he specified in his Will and Trust. My mother’s Will and Trust documents are identical to my father’s. Of utmost importance to my father, was my mother’s welfare, after his death. He left explicit instructions as to how his estate was to be distributed and protected.

My older sister, Cam (Mueller) Fischer had been disinherited and financially disowned for alleged theft of monies from a family business and tax fraud, officially in 1985. She chose to remove herself, and her children, from the family for almost 20 years; this was a source of great pain for my parents. In 1998 she maneuvered control over our mother, through a power of attorney, that mother lacked the capacity to execute. Cam sold the family home for below market value and made herself the recipient of the $500,000.00 + proceeds, along with all the personal property she valued. Items such as cars, jewelry, furs, furniture, oriental rugs, paintings, and silver have ‘disappeared’. Also lost are the irreplaceable mementos of lives well lived, such as photographs, family keepsakes, and the heritage passed down from previous generations. Cam currently benefits from the ongoing, annual $70,000.00 + per year mother receives from father’s trust; an approximate total of $700,000.00 to date; plus the $500,000.00 + from the sale of my parent’s home, a very conservative total of $1,200,000.00, that does not include personal property, social security monies, or other investments. In November of 2005, in court documents filed by Cam Fischer, Cam lists mother’s total assets as $10,000.00. Where is all the money, and how has it been spent?

The co-trustee of my father’s two Trusts, Commerce Bank, continues to fail in the fiduciary duty it has been entrusted with, which is to protect the Trusts, and oversee the appropriate distribution of the Trusts assets’. Commerce had been alerted, as far back as 1998, by Mother’s own attorney, that she was already a victim of ongoing financial duress which she was unable to effectively resist. This abuse of the Trust assets has been allowed by Commerce, despite the overwhelming evidence and documentation that has been presented to the bank. In April of 2006, Commerce authorized $10,000.00 to be paid to Cam Fischer’s attorney, Matt Rossiter, and an additional $2,000.00+ to the Probate Court appointed attorney, Jim Wright, for Cam’s portion of the court fees. These monies were paid in Mother’s name, from Father’s Trust-(in which Cam is excluded), for the benefit of Cam Fischer. I have asked Commerce, repeatedly, for an accounting of the monies dispersed from my Father’s Trust, into a checking account in Mother’s name; these monies are to be used for her welfare exclusively. They have yet to perform any type of accounting. In 2006, Commerce assumed sole trusteeship of the Trusts. Commerce disclosed that they had been unable to contact Mother for over a year; their attempts to speak with her had been blocked by Cam Fischer. Commerce performed no investigation into Mom’s competence, or lack there of; nor did they check to make sure she was still alive, and the one receiving the Trust payouts. Commerce neglected to contact me, as well; I am the beneficiary of the Trusts, after mom. Cam’s absolute control includes preventing Mother and I from seeing one another. In 2005 I was forced to obtain a court order to "visit" with my mother once a week. Financially, I have been unable to maintain the visitation order. Cam will continue to have the financial ‘upper-hand’ as long as Commerce continues to disregard its fiduciary duty to Mother, Father, and I. I have seen my mother less than a dozen times in approximately nine years.

For 8-9 years, I have been seeking justice for my parents and myself. I have battled an apathetic judicial, probate court, and bank system, that disregard my Mother’s welfare; ignoring the evidence of elder abuse, in all its forms, in particular the financial abuse that has been perpetrated upon her. The bank and the judicial court system are the profiteers, acting in their best interest to Mother’s detriment. The personal, emotional, and financial cost of this battle has been high. Daily, I fear for my Mother’s welfare. I know she is not living the life she and my father worked and planned for.

- Patricia Mueller

Guardianship Disease

The Guardianship Disease


1. lack of due process

2. violations of civil/human rights

Sent from a NASGA member

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Common Pattern - Guardian Abuse

In 2005, my sisters secretly took my mother to an elder law attorney and obtained a Durable Power of Attorney, Health care proxy, living will with them as agents. They put the family home in a trust and had my mother make her will. They had her transfer all her money to accounts in their names.

On Christmas Eve in 2006, my mother was abducted from the only home she has known for half a century. She was taken away from the people and things she loves under false pretences by my sisters. They told her she was going to get physical therapy to strengthen her weak legs, and to do everything the facility said, otherwise Medicaid would not pay for the therapy.

At first they took her to the hospital and then kept transferring her to different nursing facilities where they were drugging her with so many drugs that she could not lift up her own head and became so weak that she was unable to walk and talk and is now permanently in a wheelchair.

I filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus to get her out of the nursing facility but my sisters filed a guardianship Petition, and instead of bringing her home, the judge appointed a temporary guardian to put her at my sisters house because my sisters said in the petition that I abused my mother (we lived in the same house for 27 years). These allegations are false and at first devastated me. However, I later found that such accusations are a common pattern in guardianships because the goal in such a proceeding is not the person’s best interest, but rather it is about how unscrupulous people get the most money out of the estate. I was never given the opportunity to present any evidence or cross examine my sisters.

Instead, my mother is being still being held incommunicado at my sister’s home in Brooklyn in a wheel chair, with no phone in her room, no money to call a cab or cry out for help. And what can she do about it?

It is more evil and sad than you could ever imagine. It is emotional torture for both me and my mother who told everyone she wants to go home to see her dog, and to die in familiar surroundings. I have not seen or talked to her for almost a year and cry myself to sleep wondering how she must be feeling about the daughters she trusted who have betrayed her. And I wonder if she thinks I let her down.

My sisters filed the guardianship Petition asking to be able to put my mother into a nursing facility for good, and to be able to evict me from the family home and sell it. All of this is against my mother’s verbal and written wishes.

See You Tube Videos:

Mother is Victim of Elder Abuse!!!
A story of how my mother was taken from her home under false pretences by people she trusted and was drugged and held against her wishes as a prisoner since March 2007.

This could happen to someone you love!!!
Esta Varon tells us how she was placed in a mental institution and injected with drugs because her court appointed guardian was going on vacation and did not want to leave her alone without an aide. She says she has been forced into an abusive situation by the courts appointment of a guardian and says that the motto of the guardianship is to isolate, medicate and take the estate.

Elder abuse!!! Don't let it happen to someone you love.
Guardian and Conservator Laws are abuse of the elderly. Their motto is: Isolate, Medicate, take the estate. Seniors should beware, this could happen to you.

How Can This Happen?
Story of Daniel Gross, a senior citizen from New York, who took a drive to Connecticut and found himself in the worst nightmare of his life. Conservatorship- guardianship.

Improperly Invested Inheritances

Surrogate Judge Lee Holzman oversaw program that lost $20 million

Surrogate Judge Lee Holzman let political cronies reap lucrative fees from dozens of improperly invested inheritances - leaving taxpayers on the hook for $20 million.

The mishandling of the money - overseen by the judge and managed by two aides - let politically wired lawyers and accountants rake in $2.1 million in fees, while heirs of the 37 victimized estates couldn't get their money.

A Daily News investigation found the risky investments were first made in 2005 by ex-Bronx public administrator Esther Rodriguez, who resigned under a cloud in 2006, and continued by her successor, John Raniolo.

Topping the insiders list is lawyer Michael Lippman, counsel to public administrator Raniolo, who has collected $1.9 million in fees from the 37 estates. Records show that Raniolo's office also has requested tens of thousands of dollars in fees from some estates.

Judge Holzman is ultimately responsible for the actions of Lippman, Rodriguez and Raniolo. He appointed them and signed off on fees.

Full Article and Source:
Bronx judge oversaw city's bad investments of inheritance cash

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bank Reporting Project

The Massachusetts Bankers Association (MBA), the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs have introduced an enhanced program, the Bank Reporting Project, to help train bank personnel to recognize and prevent financial exploitation of the elderly.

The Bank Reporting Project began a dozen years ago by the MBA and is now being enhanced with more training sessions for bankers and new consumer education materials in a concerted effort to thwart would-be financial abusers of the elderly.

Financial exploitation can take many forms and is often carried out by a family member, acquaintance or fiduciary.

Full Article and Source:
Bank reporting project helps identify scams

No Help for Margaret

Margaret’s daughter tried to seek assistance from the Lehigh County Agency on Aging. They ignored her pleas for help. Margaret’s son died in 2005. However, his friends remained in her home. Her daughter sought the help of an attorney and eventually a court appointed guardian was assigned to Margaret. Laurie Schnauffer, of the Guardian Support Agency Inc. felt it was in Margaret’s best interest for her abusers to remain with her. Margaret’s bruises, broken ribs, malnourishment, and fear were of no concern to Ms. Schnaufer. However, she made it a point on many occasions to brag to Margaret’s family how much money she made by being a guardian. She restricted visits from people who were concerned about her. She threatened Margaret’s daughter that she would never see her mother again if she continued to speak out about her abuse.

In 2006 the court ruled that Margaret would be placed in an assisted living facility. When her daughter entered Margaret’s home she found it basically empty. The house itself was damaged in many ways. Letters were written to the Agency on Aging, Department of Aging, state officials, and many others. Of the 40 letters sent most were ignored. Those that did respond had no interest in helping Margaret. No one would put a stop to the financial and physical abuse of a helpless old woman.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code

To: Mass. Senate Ways & Means Committee

On behalf of our Commonwealth’s elderly and disabled adults – hundreds of whom every year do not have legal representation when faced with losing their independence through guardianship— we urge you to pass the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, including Article V on Guardianship (S843 and H 1652/1633) and send it to the full Senate.

This legislation is not controversial; it is consistent with guardianship bills that 13 states passed last year, including New England neighbors Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The legislation – supported by groups including Greater Boston Legal Services, the Boston Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association – would fully protect individuals faced with guardianship by giving them a right to legal counsel. The Massachusetts’ Uniform Probate Code also ensures that elderly or disabled adults have the opportunity to be present at their guardianship hearings, and requires that the Court find that the guardian is qualified before appointment.

The proposed legislation states that a guardian cannot admit a ward to a nursing home without specific Court approval. Without passage of S843 and H1652/1633, this basic safeguard does not exist. After more than a decade of consideration by the Massachusetts Legislature, we respectfully ask that you do not delay this any further. Thank you.

If you are a resident of MA, we need your signature on this petition.

Pass Mass. Guardianship Legislation Now

Adele Remembered

Dear Gus: Do you remember our friend Adele Fletcher?

Adele Fletcher did not know Gus M. Bilirakis back in 1935. Her adult life was just beginning. She could not imagine the devastation that Attorney Gus Bilirakis and Professional Guardian Fran Lang would unleash in her life sixty-two years later. As Mr. Bilirakis runs for public office, this site is dedicated to the loving memory of Adele Fletcher by her many friends.

Read about the fraud and conviction

Adele Remembered