Friday, September 5, 2008

Life at 50+ Event

Senators McCain and Obama will be speaking to thousands of AARP supporters at the Life@50+ event in Washington, DC., September 4 - 6, 2008. Even if you can’t be there, you can still make your voice heard.

Demand real answers from McCain and Obama!
Every question you send will be personally delivered to the candidates.
Type your question to the candidates Here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Avoiding Probate with TODD

A new Minnesota law makes it easier and cheaper for Minnesotans to plan for the transfer of real property upon their death. The transfer on death deed (or TODD) legislation that went into effect last month allows a person to sign and record a deed transferring real estate directly to a named beneficiary when the person dies, thereby avoiding probate on the property. The transfer proceeds much the same way as financial accounts that have a “pay on death” designation.

Under the new law, the transfer on death deed must be recorded prior to the grantor’s death.

The grantor retains full ownership rights over the property while living, including the right to revoke the deed or sell the property.

In addition, a TODD may direct the transfer of real estate to one or more named beneficiaries, to a class of beneficiaries or to the trustee of a trust, and because the beneficiary has no ownership interest until the grantor’s death, the property is protected from potential claims by the beneficiary’s creditors.

According to real estate practitioners, the TODD is especially useful for small estates, where it will avoid probate when the only asset might be one particular piece of property, like a homestead.

Full Article and Source:
Avoiding probate made easier under new law

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Guardianship Firm Resigning

ADDMS Guardianship Services Inc., whose fiduciary responsibilities in estate cases are under scrutiny, and its owner, Alan Polack, removed themselves from dozens of cases and are expected to continue to do so.

Probate Court Administrator Donald Housey said: "They are resigning from them whenever they come up."

ADDMS and Polack resigned from cases after ADDMS' request to disqualify Judge Pamela Gilbert O'Sullivan was turned down by Sullivan and Chief Judge Kenneth Sanborn.

ADDMS and Polack had been appointed as guardians to estates and conservators to individuals in nearly 100 pending cases early this year.

In a state-funded audit of the court by the Whall Group, ADDMS was questioned about "multiple problems in accounts for assets and income" in its cases, according to a summary of the audit by Carl Gromek, state court administrator. It also said Probate Judge Kathryn George "demonstrated poor oversight" in assigning an inordinate number of cases to ADDMS.

Full Article and Source:
Guardianship firm resigning from probate court cases

See also:

Shake Up in Probate

Hearing For New Guardians

Guardianship Agency Removed

Probate Judge removed

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dangerous Guardianship Petition

I believe that the Massachusetts Guardianship Petition sets a dangerous precedent. You know how lawyers love to twist words and redefine their meanings when they write laws for themselves. The problems are their redefinitions:
Incompetent = any one disabled or having an illness; Mentally ill = anything they can pay a shrink to list as a diagnosis - usually some version of institution-intolerant behavior, such as normal anger, smiling, crying, or other emotional display. For that offense, they are drugged and miserable, isolated, and die.

Here's the other major problem: WE ARE DESPERATE TO KEEP OUR AUTONOMY as human beings. As far as the judiciary is concerned, the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know! We know family members, and even better, our chosen friends - or at least they know us. Even if they spend too much of an elderly person's money, if that person is happy, so what? If my mother's money had run out, I would have sold my house to take care of her, not expecting any reward in return. I never had that chance.

However, if that petition goes through everywhere, people could not beat a greedy lawyer as court-appointed guardian, but would be reluctant to file many court documents proving that they were honest and carrying out the Ward's best interest.

Many do not need a shrink. You may chose a doctor very carefully and he/she would have answered to you, not to the court. The doctor may use holistic remedies, where possible. You will be hard pressed to dins that kind of doctor here, especially one that is acceptable to the court! No toxic synthetic drugs, no nursing home, no shrinks - just happiness and peace, visits from animal friends, doing what they like, having visitors they love, and delicious home-cooked meals. The guardian's doctors may prohibit you from knowing the records, the toxic drugs they use may kill the Ward - they are the puppet of the guardian/executor team - they have their orders!

Strangers don't care, but they are paid plenty. The MA petition is a preparation for guardianship - first requiring that you fill out the assets - yours and the wards. That money is now the goal of the guardian/executor! Unnecessary expense and legal hassle is an impediment to most people who would otherwise be glad to protect you in the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.

If the lawyers or the court never intervened at all, you could settle a problem as a family at little cost. We should instead, be making laws to strengthen autonomy of the person to make their own decisions - and enforce that! You can always have an over-sight by asking a periodic visit of some official.

CAVEAT: Do not allow the lawyers or the courts, to make laws that force a family member or friend to jump through legal hoops in court - friends who were kind enough to allow themselves to be named as potential guardian because they know and care about you, will be discouraged, if they are forced into a red tape quagmire. Making life difficult and expensive for friends and family is a goal of the judiciary, who can see profits and favors with court-appointed stranger (public) guardians. There are very few activists in the world. Most people do not want to be bothered if laws are written to make the task of caring for a friend/family member too difficult.

KISS - 'Keep it Simple Stupid'- and families can usually work it out for themselves. Make it real hard, and we will be left with miserable, incarcerated, lonely, poor, then dead, wards - our former loved ones or even ourselves.

Written by a NASGA member