Saturday, May 30, 2009

Apathetic Court and Bank System

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 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; a total of over $630,000.00 to date; plus the $500,000.00 + from the sale of my parent’s home, a very conservative total of $1,130,000.00, 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 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, 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 also assumed sole trusteeship of the Trusts without making any attempt to contact me, the beneficiary 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 my sister, Cam Fischer, who controls every aspect of Mother’s life. 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 attorneys, the bank, and the 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.

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Judge Orders Private Conservator Be Replaced With Public Guardian

Judge William McLafferty ordered Patricia Rosen to the care of a public guardian despite her strenuous objections and those of her son, Brian Rosen.

The hearing grew testy at times, with McLafferty telling Brian Rosen he did not wish to hear from him any further and limited the hours Rosen could see her son.

In recent years, two private conservators quit Rosen’s service, citing irreconcilable differences with Brian Rosen, whom they’ve accused of relentless interference and obstruction. Two restraining orders were obtained against Brian Rosen; both were rescinded. Rosen has accused the conservators of attempting to loot his mother’s estate.

Patricia Rosen has argued that she does not need help from anyone anymore and that the cloudiness of thought that accompanied the car crash that claimed the life of her husband and then later was exacerbated by chemotherapy treatment for cancer has passed.

McLafferty insisted that she submit to another neuro-psychiatric evaluation. Results of previous tests yielded conflicting indications. When Rosen refused to take a third test, the judge ordered her private conservator to be replaced with a public guardian.

Full Article and Source:
Disorder in the Court

Guardians Can Now Adopt Wards

A bill allowing legal guardians to adopt children in their care is now law.

The bill signed by Governor Markell adds legal guardians to the list of people who can petition family court to terminate parental rights and seek adoption.

The bill's co-sponsors, Representative Pam Thornburg and Senator Nancy Cook, say the new law will help about 100 families in Delaware give kids under their guardianship stable, secure environments in which to grow up.

Gov. signs bill allowing guardians to adopt

Friday, May 29, 2009

Foreign Guardian

Florida law does not permit appointment of a foreign guardian who is not a family member, yet that’s exactly what North Carolina imposed upon this innocent and defenseless lady. The foreign guardian, appointed without due process by a Superior Court clerk, incarcerated Hazel in a 32-bed facility in Port Charlotte, Florida, without good cause or necessity. The same clerk later refused to hear evidence on her financial abuses. He expressly allowed this stranger to rip Hazel from a loving, stable and stimulating environment with her daughter in Asheville, NC. The relocation was against the advice of Hazel’s court-appointed guardian ad litem, doctors, day care case manager, her sister, her brother, her brother-in-law, another caregiver/friend, and of course, repeated pleas of Hazel’s daughter. Hazel’s daughter even asked to be allowed to care for her mother in Hazel’s own Florida home without any compensation. Her daughter was willing to give up her home and career, so Hazel would not have to go to a facility. Why should Hazel be “warehoused” when she has willing and able family or friends to care for her. The response: “Denied.”

Despite a successful appeal against such order, reversing for “prejudicial error,” the clerk’s office ignored the appeal ruling upon remand, even after the guardian ad litem testified that moving Hazel would be a violation of the guardian’s fiduciary duty, was against the public policies of NC for in-state and non-facility confinement, and was grounds for the guardians’ removal. Hazel’s “institutional confinement” also contravenes the 1999 US Supreme Court case, Olmstead v. L.C., as well as the stated legislative intent in two states and Florida’s statutory prerequisites for facility confinement.

The guardian has total control of Hazel’s estate which was worth $450,000 in January 2006. The guardian testified in December 2006 that Hazel’s assets were worth $300,000-350,000. The clerk made no inquiry about this extraordinary loss of value. The guardian would not let Hazel’s daughter into her mother’s home to retrieve Hazel’s most precious property. So, Hazel’s property (including Florida homestead property with no mortgage) is essentially gone. The guardian hired attorneys in two states to maintain her powers and Hazel’s assets pay them. Hazel does not have a lawyer since the guardian successfully argued to a Florida judge that Hazel is “incompetent” so cannot “hire” one, even if the attorney serves pro bono. Although this guardian consistently acts in conflict of interest with Hazel’s interests, her appointment continues although statute and case law authorizes her “removal.”

The Florida Dept of Children and Family Services (DCF) is aligned with the guardian since the 20th Judicial Circuit Court has “regularly appointed” her for about 18 years. There can be no “elder abuse” if the court authorizes the guardian to act, notwithstanding the lack of meaningful scrutiny. She is under no obligation to maximize Hazel’s resources. This guardian is the president of a corporation (for administering guardianships), even though “appointed” individually, has admitted going to court hundreds of times, and has told Hazel’s daughter that she never loses and the court does whatever she wants.

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Investigators: The Power of One - May 2009

Minnesota lawmakers have granted new rights for the tens of thousands of Minnesotans who require the help of a conservator or guardian. Over the last year and a half, the FOX 9 Investigators have shown you how powerful conservators and guardians are and how sometimes that power is abused. Now, there is help.

More than a dozen men and women drove from all over the state earlier this year when Gast was charged for lying under oath during a hearing for one of her many clients. Gast had testified she has a nursing and a business degree.

Investigators told the court she has neither. Gast eventually plead guilty to perjury and court officials say she is resigning from all her court appointed cases in Hennepin county.

Jean Krumpelmann of Shoreview said, “I trusted she was a nurse. We had many problems with her.”

The new law will require all guardians and conservators to register with the state and file a sworn statement outlining their education background and whether they have ever been removed for cause from serving as a conservator or guardian. They must also update their criminal history every year.

Full Article and Source:
Investigators: The Power of One - May 2009

See also:
"Bill of Rights" for Wards

Gast Pleads Guilty to Perjury

Gast Charged with Perjury

Sheila Gast - Case Files

Investigators: The Power of One

Investigators: The Power of One: A Call For Change

Senior Protest Against Gov. Cuts

With Gov. Pat Quinn threatening to cut millions from agencies and services across Illinois, area seniors are worried that at-home care will be slashed beyond repair.

About 100 seniors gathered at the Thompson Center this morning to protest the cuts, which would slice the Community Care program by half, eliminating home care service for about 25,000 seniors. Standing in front of a mock “Wheel of Fortune” wheel, members of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus railed against Quinn’s plan, and poked fun at Illinois House Speaker Rep. Michael Madigan.

Mimi Harris, 77, of Edgewater: “The cuts are going to be really bad for seniors. I understand we’re in a financial crisis, but this is not the time.”

The protesters are worried that many seniors would lose their caregivers and be forced to move into nursing homes.

Full Article and Source:
Seniors rally to keep at-home care funding

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Denied, Plundered, Neglected

When Esther Johnson became vulnerable, her wishes and needs were denied, her estate plundered, and her dignity neglected. Even though she named her son Taylor as her DPoA and even specified he would be her guardian if needed, she didn’t get what she wanted. Instead, Esther’s daughter was named guardian. She confined Esther to her bedroom, denied her visitors, and only allowed Taylor to see their Mother one hour per week and those supervised visits cost Taylor over $100 each.

No one was allowed to mention Taylor’s name or answer Esther when she asked about him.

The 3 1/2 year nightmare, which Esther Johnson suffered and which directly caused her death, revolves around the Probate Court structure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the courts absolute refusal to abide by the existing protective laws for the elderly.

Esther Johnson suffered many abuses and torture before her homicide on December 30, 1998.

As a society, we can and must protect the human, civil and constitutional rights of seniors. Every person deserves to live a full life with dignity. Every person must be guaranteed that their wishes will be carried out, assets protected and dignity preserved.

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Seidlin Cleared in 2nd Probe

An investigation into the relationship between former Broward County Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin and an elderly woman who gave his family hundreds of thousands of dollars has been closed with no findings of wrongdoing.

The Department of Children & Families said it found no indications of exploitation or inadequate supervision. No other details were released.

Earlier this year, DCF launched a probe into Seidlin's relationship with 83-year-old Barbara Kasler. Kasler's family contended that Seidlin took advantage of her, taking the senior citizen for thousands of dollars while watching her health deteriorate.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Broward Judge Larry Seidlin cleared in 2nd investigation

See also:
Judge Accused of Exploitation

Guardianship = Ownership

It makes me want to shout from the highest mountain for all the country to hear - the treasonous crimes committed by so-called Americans against innocent American citizens who are forced to pay for crimes against our most vulnerable elders, disabled, children, humanity, Veterans and their families.

The atrocity of a new slavery which is wrongly called "guardianship" rather than the accurate description - "ownership."

There are no words to describe the frustration of taboos and secrecy which surround and cover the heinous patterns and practices known as "guardianship" for personal gain while worshipping the God of Profit, repeatedly "legalized" by the myth of lawful probate courts.

All the Memorial Day and other patriotic day celebrations are null and void until Americans stand up to any government, private or corporate entity, that would dare perpetuate, hide/cover up and/or "legalize" any pattern or practice which can accurately be described as slavery or human trafficking.


Written by a NASGA member

Britney's Bills

Just how much does it cost to be Britney Spears?

A little less than $1 million a month, according to an accounting filed in L.A. County Superior Court.

Lawyers for Spears’ father, who has permanent control of her personal affairs, submitted the document Friday to the judge supervising the conservatorship.

The filing explains down to the penny how Jamie Spears and an attorney who helps him oversee her business interests spent more than $10 million on the singer’s behalf over the course of 11 months last year. The costs detailed range from the mundane – water bills, phone bills, and mortgage payments for her Studio City house – to charges that hint at her celebrity status, including a Malibu beach house, assistants’ salaries and round-the-clock security.

Body guards and other security measures cost Spears $447,633, the accounting shows. More than a third of the money paid out – $3.6 million – went to lawyers.

Full Article and Source:
How much does it cost to be Britney Spears?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Financial Clean Out

In 2001 , a San Mateo County judge ruled my Mom could no longer take care of herself and forced her into a conservatorship to “manage” her multimillion dollar estate and make essential decisions about her care.

The private conservator sold Mom’s home, where she had lived for 45 years, for six million dollars (more money for them!) – and forced her into a nursing home even though she wanted to live with me and I wanted to take care of her.

The conservatorship was solely in the best financial interest of the attorneys and conservator who feasted off of Mom’s estate as they poisoned the court against me for my efforts to protect her from her predators.

Because I complained about their abuse of my Mom and questioned the level of care she was receiving at the nursing home where she was imprisoned, I was not permitted to see Mom unless I hired a social worker to “observe” my visit.

I was denied all input regarding Mom’s care and medical decisions about her. They had stolen her away from her family and the life she had lived and was accustomed to because they wanted her money.

All contact with her friends was also screened, leaving her feeling abandoned and alone and also angry she could not go home. What she wanted and needed was ignored. She did not feel safe in the nursing home and I constantly feared for her safety. Her final days were nothing less than miserable and frightening for her, and for me.

The attorneys and conservator rationalized their exorbitant fees (hundreds of thousands of dollars) proclaiming to be representing my Mom’s best interest against me – and the court rubber stamped their every request. They had done an excellent job of setting the stage for Mom’s financial clean out by maligning me and blaming me for their continued litigation.

No one is safe!

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Falk's Judge is Reconsidering

A judge who previously said she was leaning against establishing a conservatorship over Peter Falk indicated today she will likely put one in place after all, an attorney said.

Attorney Troy L. Martin, who represents one of Falk's two adopted daughters, said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb announced her change of heart during a hearing that dealt with access to the actor's medical records, as well as a request to delay the upcoming trial in the case.

Martin said after the hearing that he was surprised, but also pleased with Bobb's announcement that a conservatorship will be established.

Martin: "I can only guess she had time to reflect."

Full Article and Source:
Judge Considers Conservatorship Over Actor Peter Falk

See also:

No Conservatorship for Falk

Conservatorship Spat Continues

Opposite Opinions

War Over Falk

"My Dad Has Alzheimer's"

Alleged Neo-Nazi Parents in Custody Battle

A seven-year-old girl apprehended by Child and Family Services said she believed only white people deserve to live and talked casually of how to kill black people, a court heard yesterday.

She said: "You would whip black people with a ball and chain and they would die," testified a social worker who interviewed the girl after she showed up at school last year with a swastika and racist writings drawn on her body.

Child and Family Services is seeking permanent guardianship of the now eight-year-old girl and her three-year-old stepbrother, while the boy's father is fighting to regain custody of the children.

The mother and the boy's father, who are now separated, cannot be identified under terms of a publication ban.

Full Article and Source:
'Girl taught to hate'

More information:
Alleged white supremacist parents in custody battle

Parents claim girl had made most of the neo-Nazi symbols and writing on herself

Powers of Attorney

Victoria E. Knight, author of a column called "Getting Personal" (a Dow Jones Newswires Column), recently wrote about how the market drop and estate gaps create havoc. She relates a story about an elderly woman who lost half of her $6 million in savings, which had been held almost entirely in stocks. Her family looked on helplessly since this woman had no effective Power of Attorney document in place, and she had become incapacitated. She had named someone to help her in this type of situation, but that person had died, and no alternate had been named.

Every adult (i.e. over 18 years of age) should have Powers of Attorney for finances and Healthcare decisions. Incapacity can strike suddenly and not just for the elderly. As such, failure to name a trusted Agent, and an alternate to that Agent, might have disastrous consequences financially. If there is no one to make healthcare decisions, proper treatment may be delayed, or inappropriate measures may be taken. Someone to whom you would never have given the power if you had been able to do so, might be making healthcare decisions for you that are not in keeping with your wishes.

Powers of Attorney are extremely important, perhaps more important than your Will. It is also vital to choose your Agent carefully. This is the person who will "step into your shoes" to make financial decisions, if it becomes necessary for someone to help you. An Agent that you do not trust 100% is worse than no Agent at all, given the exploitation that can occur. However, a conversation with an estate planning attorney, and some reflection upon the importance of the choice of an Agent, leads most people to effective choices, even if it means using a corporate or a trusted professional as an Agent. Failure to execute a financial Power of Attorney could result in the need for a Court ordered guardianship. Guardianship proceedings are expensive, can take many months to complete, and may be very emotionally trying for the family, as well as the ward. The Court is then obligated to supervise the Guardian from then on. The appointed Guardian may not be the person you would have chosen had you made a choice.

Full Article and Source:
Legal Ease: Protecting your assets when incapacity strikes

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flawed Probate System

The Colorado State Judiciary is reviewing its protective proceedings, and the Silvia Tessadri case is a big reason why.

When Tessadri entered the care of guardian Ann Grasee by court order in 2003, Tessadri had an estate valued at more than $500,000 as well as a home and trust. Grasee charges $100 per hour for her care, a standard fee for guardian ad litems in Colorado.

Tessadri's son, Rudy Bush said guardian Ann Grasee and conservator, Michael Beutz, have spent the $500,000 and are now listing his mother's house on the market.

Beutz and Grasee said the profits from the sale would be used to care for Tessadri, whose estate is now nearly bankrupt.

Bush lived with his mother in the $180,000 Lakewood house until the court ordered he move from the premise. Now, the property is being rented under lease until a buyer can be found.

"When it was determined there was no belief she would ever return home, it squanders an estate asset to have it empty," Beutz said. The trust (managed by Wells Fargo) wished to sell the house and received a court order to do so.

Bush said his mother should never have been put into guardianship or moved from her house into a care facility.

"A woman who had a half-million dollar estate and a house is now broke. It's the saddest thing I've ever heard."
Protecting estates from guardians, conservators

Call7 Investigators:
System Could Drain Your Retirement Savings

Bush's mother is one of thousands of elderly people in assisted living and nursing homes in Colorado whose affairs are overseen by court-appointed guardians and conservators, who run all aspects of their lives for a fee.

7NEWS Investigators found a state audit has raised serious questions about the case.

For example, why is the lawyer in charge billing $145 an hour for purchasing a washer, dryer and television for Bush's mother? Why is he charging $145 an hour for talking to an electrician and another $145 an hour for talking to her neighbors?

Beutz said his obligation is to protect her the best he can -- whether it's inquiring about someone he thought was a threat to his client or concern about a house with faulty wiring.

Even if the charges are justified, who is checking conservators' bills? Who's watching the money?

Jefferson County District Court Judge Stephen Munsinger told 7NEWS, "We don't have the resources to do it and we don't have the time do do it."

Ferrugia then asked, "Basically you have to rely on the good intentions of lawyers?"

"Absolutely," Munsinger replied.
Investigators: No One Oversees Court-Appointed Professionals

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Guardian and Ward

Many guardianship petitions are brought by well meaning people who are totally unaware of the ramifications of guardianship.

They usually have no idea that once a guardian has been appointed over a person, that person completely loses his/her liberty.

A guardian has enormous power over a person:

A guardian can decide where you live.

A guardian can sell your home without your permission and knowledge.

A guardian can change your will.

A guardian can charge fees, sometimes exorbitant.

A guardian can get a "commission" from your estate.

A guardian can decide how you will die.

The Ward has less rights than a death row inmate.

Scams Against Seniors

Fed up with purported financial advisers preying on unwitting older people, investigators from the Arkansas Securities Department last year staged an undercover sweep of one of the hucksters' favorite showcases -- free lunch seminars.

The Arkansas sweep triggered several investigations of financial firms that are still under way. It also uncovered enough in the way of shady practices -- misleading claims, underplayed risk -- to prompt legislative action. This spring, Arkansas legislators passed a law, effective July 1, that doubles the civil penalties for financial securities violations when the victim is 65 or older. Though the state securities department can't bring criminal complaints, it can refer such cases to the attorney general's office.

Arkansas is one of a number of states that are passing or amending securities and criminal laws to impose "enhanced penalties" on people who commit financial crimes against seniors. Similar legislation is expected to be proposed in Congress next month by Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Full Article and Source:
Laws Take On Financial Scams Against Seniors

Monday, May 25, 2009

NASGA Honors Our Nation’s Veterans

National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse

For immediate release
May 25, 2009
For more information contact:Annie McKenna
NASGA Media Liaison
NASGA Honors Our Nation’s Veterans on Memorial Day…
But Beware and Be Warned! Veterans in Peril
Over 30,000 Americans have been injured to date during the current war on terror - a war that may continue for years. Many have returned to service but others have been disabled, some very severely.

Our heroes of past wars also fall victim to unlawful and abusive guardianship / conservatorship, either as a result of disability or advanced age. The numbers continue to grow.

The pirates target our young disabled Veterans - lured by their veteran’s benefits, disability pensions, and now even their Social Security benefits.

Our aging Veterans are even more tempting - perhaps they have well-managed, nice-sized estates to go with their pensions.

After years of service and sacrifice to our country, is this what our Veterans have to look forward to? Denied the very rights and liberties they fought for? Confined in nursing homes, left to languish, receiving perhaps just a pittance for their personal use from their guardians?

Supporting the troops and our fallen heroes should mean supporting them not only when we need them - but also when they need us. And they need us fighting for them when they become vulnerable.

NASGA is a civil rights organization comprised of victims and families working to expose and end unlawful and abusive guardianships/conservatorships.

Even a Judge is Not Safe

Exactly how corrupt and vindictive is the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office?

What an Outrage! From judge to ward of the court

Court Orders Release of Retired Judge

Erasing the Kung-Fu Judge

Battle Continues In Guardianship Case Of Retired Judge

Out of Order - Ailing Judge's Guardian Stole 187G

N.Y. Court Suspends Lawyer Accused of Taking Money From Judge's Estate

John L. Phillips Jr., a retired Civil Court judge known as the "Kung-Fu Judge", who owned theaters in Brooklyn that were a prominent platform for black activists in the 1980s, died at 83.

In 2001, Mr. Phillips, at 77, announced he would challenge the incumbent, Charles J. Hynes, in the race for district attorney in Brooklyn. But he was declared mentally incompetent after an investigation by Mr. Hynes that some said was politically motivated. Mr. Hynes said the action was undertaken for Mr. Phillips’s own good. A series of court-appointed guardians took over Mr. Phillips’s affairs, but a court case ensued involving allegations that the guardians had mismanaged his person and finances.
Civil Court Judge Is Dead

It was reported that this self-made multi-millionaire who served honorably for 13 years, was destitute and confined against his will to a Bronx nursing home. He was barred from receiving visitors or mail or even phone calls without permission of the court. His property had been sold off in unpublished and possibly illegal auctions. Millions in assets disappeared.
At long last, please set Judge Phillips free

After spending just over two years living in a cramped, foul-smelling room in a bleak nursing home at the outer reaches of the Bronx, the retired Brooklyn judge was finally transferred to an assisted living facility closer to his Brooklyn home.
Court Orders Release of Retired Judge from Nursing Home

The Brooklyn Eagle reported the saga of the retired judge’s guardianship case, along with a potential million-dollar fraud. The Eagle revealed details of an accounting of the tenure of a former property guardian, a report that shows hundreds of thousands of dollars in misappropriated funds. Accounting, filed in Brooklyn’s guardianship court, details irregular financial disbursements by former property guardian Emani Taylor, made from the bank accounts of retired Judge John Phillips, a ward of the guardianship court. Phillips’ supporters hope this accounting could be the catalyst for a criminal probe into what they claim have been years of mismanagement and outright theft.
Were Funds Pilfered from a Retired Judge’s Estate?

It was also reported that the retired judge owed a million dollars in back taxes. Since 2001, the responsibility for his taxes has been with a string of law guardians appointed by the state court since 2001. But for reasons that are not yet clear, the lawyers involved in the case never filed tax returns.
The Tax Travails Of the 'Kung-Fu Judge'

Court-appointed guardians for Alzheimer's-stricken ex-Judge John Phillips failed to file any income taxes for their elderly ward for more than five years - running up a million-dollar bill to the IRS, according to court papers. In a flurry of strongly worded motions, a current guardian slammed two predecessors, Ray Jones and Frank Livoti, for filing no taxes on Phillips' multimillion-dollar estate, which includes some dozen buildings in Brooklyn.
Judge Money Melee - Guardians Lax on Tax

A Brooklyn lawyer had been suspended from practicing as a state panel investigated her handling of the estate of John L. Phillips Jr. The lawyer, Emani P. Taylor, had been accused of improperly enriching herself from the Phillips estate. A panel in the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division called for Ms. Taylor’s immediate suspension pending further investigation, saying she had refused to cooperate with a court investigation into allegations of professional misconduct as Mr. Phillips’s guardian. The panel also found that Ms. Taylor “intentionally converted guardianship funds.”
Lawyer Is Suspended as Conduct Is Criticized

The People vs. the People
A Brooklyn-based filmmaker spent the better part of the last two years compiling a documentary on the retired civil court judge’s legal efforts to restore his once-vast real estate empire, as well as the 2001 election for district attorney. The film tells the story of how a real estate empire worth an estimated $10 million was dissipated, under the administration of a series of attorneys appointed by a state guardianship court.
Film Tells of Retired Judge’s Guardianship Case

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Ending Free Legal Services

Wisconsin Guardianship Support Center proponents say the proposed elimination of the center on June 30 would reduce access to legal guidance on guardianship, powers of attorney and rights of elderly/disabled persons. Barron County Aging and Disability Resource Center Director Charlene Oftedahl finds the WGSC's services convenient.

Besides offering a free hotline and training, the center's quarterly newsletter, "The Guardian," answers commonly asked questions about elderly issues. When the county needs to initiate guardianship, Oftedahl refers cases to Register in Probate Deanne Alsbury, who in turn directs questions to the WGSC's hotline.

Alsbury: "It was such a nice service to have. I'm very sad that this is going on. They're a big advocate for the ward, the people who can't protect themselves."

Full Article and Source:
Free legal counseling on elderly issues could be the next loss if Gov. Jim Doyle's proposed budget passes

Nearing Reform

After years of resistance from probate judges, the state House of Representatives voted Tuesday to overhaul the state's probate system and reduce the number of courts from 117 to a maximum of 50.

The bill keeps probate judge as an elected position, but it will require that new candidates running in the November 2010 election be lawyers.

Many probate judges battled against change for years, saying that eliminating probate courts is like closing local firehouses. Others fought to retain their highly prized and often lucrative part-time jobs.

The bill, which passed 126-19, represented a compromise by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Democratic and Republican legislators in both chambers and Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim, among others.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Court Nearing Reform

More information:
House votes to reduce number of probate courts

House Votes to Overhaul Probate Court System

House Passes Historic, Bipartisan Probate Reform By 126 to 19

See also:
Connecticut Probate Courts

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Not Her Home Anymore

Mother made me promise I would see to it she could stay in her home until her final day. But her court appointed guardian took away her comfort and made her life miserable.

My Mother suffered from dementia. Familiar surroundings give a person with dementia comfort, whereas major changes make the person agitated and uncomfortable.

Mother always took great pride in her decorating; she liked a European look, and had beautiful things from her country, Ukraine, which was her heritage. She had a large Ukrainian rug hanging in her living room; she loved that rug, and it was one of many things that made her house her home.

The guardian decided that Mother’s house was not modern enough --- she took down Mother’s prized Ukrainian rug. She disposed of Mother’s treasured Ukranian dolls and much of her furniture. Mother’s beautiful living room transformed into a stark room, void of the precious knick knacks and personal items that made it comfortable and familiar for her --- things that made her happy and gave her pleasure.

The Guardian also decided to remodel the kitchen. She had a new floor installed--- it wasn’t necessary nor did my Mother want it, but what Mother wanted didn’t matter to the Guardian. She replaced the curtains Mother lovingly hand sewed and with ugly gray funeral parlor looking curtains. A new refrigerator, a microwave, new vacuum, new windows and two air conditioners – all unnecessary expenses. Mother hated air conditioning, it made her cough and too cold. The Guardian used my Mother’s money to modernize Mother’s home for the Guardian’s comfort and the comfort of her staff --- not my Mother’s. Mother complained of the mess and the mental stress of the construction.

Mother told me it wasn’t her home anymore; and sadly, she was right. The Guardian turned my Mother’s home from her castle to a prison.

The Guardian charged Mother $280 an hour, over $46,000 for her fees in the first year of misery alone. She treated Mother like a child, didn’t do her job, ran up exorbitant and unnecessary expenses, and worse of all, despite my best efforts, I was powerless to help her. My complaints and pleas for help fell on deaf ears.

In Memoriam - Stephanie Hordijuk

May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month

"Bill of Rights" for Wards

An estimated 22,000 Minnesotans live under the authority of court-appointed guardians and conservators, and about 3,000 new cases are added each year. Now those individuals, many of them suffering from mental illnesses or dementia, have new protections from misconduct on the part of those appointed to make decisions for them.

Motivated by stories about questionable behavior by guardians and conservators, the state Legislature voted overwhelmingly to strengthen oversight of what had been a virtually unregulated profession in Minnesota.

The law, which Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed, creates a "bill of rights" for wards and protected persons, bolsters their ability to challenge decisions made on their behalf and requires guardians and conservators to register with the state courts starting in 2013.

Full Article and Source:
Those under guardians get rights

Guardian Wants Justice

One night, the 15-year-old girl Barry Snyder calls his grandchild left to go to a friend's home for a sleepover, and by the next morning the girl had overdosed and was comatose in the hospital.

A little more than a month later, Snyder, has gone public to let Central Florida know that the teenager is alive but suffers from lasting health issues. He also insists that many of the adults responsible for her condition remain free of criminal charges.

Snyder: "I believe ultimately the adults that gave her drugs are to blame. These people will be brought to justice either by the actions of men or the promise of God."

Snyder, the teenage girl's guardian, allowed her to spend the night at an old friend's home in Groveland on April 10 and 11, but the two girls ended up going out with adult men who purchased drugs and alcohol. And now, he says, she will never be the same.

Full Article and Source:
Guardian of teenage girl who overdosed wants justice

Astor in the News

The Brooke Astor Case / Anthony Marshall Trial

Brooke Astor, who wore beautiful clothes and expensive jewels into her 100s, walked around with nothing on in her mansion at Cove End, Maine, one afternoon, as her mental state worsened, said a maid of the late doyenne.
Astor Walked Naked, Offered Paintings as Gift, NY Court Hears

Philip Marshall, the grandson of New York doyenne Brooke Astor, choked up recalling the last years of her life when she couldn’t recognize her family.
Astor Forgot Family, Lived in ‘Dirty’ Apartment in Final Years

The witness stand in Room 1536 of the Manhattan Criminal Courts building has at times been a pulpit for the rich and the famous over the past several weeks.
At Astor Trial, Famous Faces Turn Heads, and Testify

See also:
Marshall Goes to Trial