Saturday, July 11, 2009

117 Probate Courts Reduced

A new law that will reform the probate court system could mean drastic changes for northeastern Connecticut towns.

Seven probate courts serve the towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Sterling, Thompson and Woodstock. Canterbury and Sterling are served by the Plainfield court.

Probate courts also are known as family courts. Cases vary from settling estates to deciding parental rights and guardianship.

Combined, the seven northeastern Connecticut courts heard more than 1,800 matters in 2008.

But with the reform law signed last month by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, the 117 probate courts across the state will be reduced to between 44 and 50.

Full Article and Source:
Single probate court may serve 9 northeastern Connecticut towns

More information:
A plan creating 50 probate court districts in Connecticut by consolidating the present 117 has been written by the Probate Court Assembly.

Probate judges met in Hartford to arrive at the first in a series of steps that will reform the state's 300-year-old probate court system.

They were responding to a bill signed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell June 12. The law is designed to make the courts more self-sustaining financially and more efficient.
Proposed probate court changes announced

See also:
Rell Signs Legislation

Senior Tsunami

With Los Angeles County facing a "senior tsunami" in the decades ahead, county officials are not adequately prepared to deal with the explosion in demand for senior services and a growing rate of physical and financial crimes against the elderly, the civil grand jury warns in a new report.

As baby boomers age, the county's senior population is expected to double from 1.6 million today to 3 million by 2030, placing increasing pressure on the nearly 100 programs in 24 county departments that provide services to seniors and adults with disabilities, according to county data.

"This pending `senior tsunami' will dramatically impact the need for senior services for elders," grand jurors wrote. "This civil grand jury investigation shows the county is not adequately prepared as the population ages for the significant increase in demand for elder abuse prevention programs and services."

Also with the rise in the senior population has come a big jump in crimes targeting the elderly.

Full Article and Source:
LA. County grand jury issues `senior tsunami' warning

See also:
Egregious Mismanagement at Public Guardian's Office

Marshall Falls At Trial

During a morning break in testimony at his trial in State Supreme Court, Mr. Marshall became dizzy while using the bathroom, said Kenneth E. Warner, one of his lawyers. His body crumpled and his head smacked into the partition in a stall.

A folding chair was brought into the bathroom, where Mr. Marshall’s wife, Charlene, Mr. Warner and court officers tended to him. Paramedics later arrived, and Mr. Marshall was rolled out on a stretcher about 12:30 p.m.

Justice A. Kirke Bartley Jr. suspended testimony for the rest of the day.

Full Article and Source:
Astor’s Son Falls, Halting Testimony for a Day

More information:
Brooke Astor's son falls in NYC courthouse

See also:
Brooke Astor - Anthony Marshall Trial

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interview With Harvey

It's a local Terry Schiavo story. Four years ago, Gary Harvey had a heart attack and fell down the basement stairs -- and was brain damaged. His wife Sarah ended up losing guardianship of her husband while trying to protect him. FLN's Sarah Harnisch went directly to Sarah just weeks before a court decides whether or not the state will take out Gary Harvey's feeding tube.

Source and Radio Show:
FLN News - The Gary Harvey Story

See also:
Life In Court's Hands

The Gary Harvey Story

Woman Accused of Victimizing an Elderly

CA - Bakersfield Police need help finding a woman accused of victimizing an elderly person.

Police say the suspect stole property, and money from the victim's northeast Bakersfield home.

The suspect is 24-year-old Lauren Ruth Vance, the incident she's wanted for stems from a burglary in April where authorities say Vance was familiar with the elderly victim, and cased the home prior to burglarizing it. Detective Mary DeGeare: "The elderly are more vulnerable, they come from a time period where they want to trust people." It's that trust police say may have been violated Vance allegedly broke into a home in April, stealing money, and property from an elderly resident.

DeGeare: "She knew them, she was familiar with their habits, with their assets, and waited until they were not home, and planned and participated in the burglary."

Police say Vance is wanted for residential burglary, grand theft and financial elder abuse.

Sandy Morris, with the BPD's crime prevention unit: "Financial abuse to an elder is financial suicide."

Morris say in these types of situations, where the suspect knows the victim, then takes advantage of them, it can be especially damaging.

Morris: "If you and I get taken advantage of, we buy something that's bogus and we have to recoup the money, we can go to work tomorrow and make it back. But a senior has no way of doing that."

That's why Morris says it's important to keep a watchful eye on your elderly residents.

If you have any information on this case, or know the whereabouts of Lauren Vance, you are asked to call police at 327-7111.

Bakersfield police need help finding a woman accused of elder abuse

Sheriff Addresses Elder Abuse

A couple of saddening cases of elder abuse raise new concerns about how well we protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community: the elderly.

It's a crime that's tough to stomach, and the Salt Lake County Sheriff says it's on the rise.

Sheriff Jim Winder" "We need to start talking about the issues of the aged and look at them in a new light. We've seen some very tragic reminders of that recently."

Ninety-year-old Beatrice Barker lived in a West Valley City home with her granddaughter-in-law and caretaker Angie Barker. According to court papers, the grandmother died last month after significant weight loss, suffering from pneumonia and bed sores. The granddaughter faces a felony elder abuse charge.

In another case, prosecutors say Michael Hansen Jr. and Christopher Hansen beat up their grandmother, urinated on her and left her injured in a bathroom in her Salt Lake City home.

Winder says they used to see a half-dozen elder abuse cases a year; now it's more than a dozen a month.

Full Article and Source:
SLCO sheriff says new approach needed to fight elder abuse

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Egregious Mismanagement at Public Guardian's Office

The Orange County grand jury issued a scathing report criticizing the public administrator/public guardian's office for "egregious" mismanagement, including questionable promotions that cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

The report, the jurors' second on the subject, concluded "that a complete restructuring" of the office was necessary.

Jury foreman Jim Perez: "It was outrageous behavior."

The public administrator settles the estates of the deceased; the public guardian takes care of people under legal conservatorship. The department handles estates valued at more than $38 million each year, according to the report.

In a move to reduce county costs, the office of the public guardian was split from the Health Care Agency in 2005 and combined with the public administrator.

But instead of saving money, the first grand jury report said, costs went up because of additional management salaries. Staffing levels have risen from seven managers for 67 employees at a cost of $529,796 to 10 managers for the same number of employees at $1.04 million.

Jurors intended to issue only one report on the agency. But within two weeks of its release in May, they got a "significant" number of calls and letters informing them that not only had management not changed, but that the situation had worsened.

Full Article and Source:
O.C. grand jury again criticizes public administrator/public guardian's office

Marine Recruiter Ignores Conservatorship

A few days after he arrived at boot camp, Joshua Fry no longer wanted to be a Marine.

He was confused by the orders drill instructors shouted at him. He was caught stealing peanut butter from the chow hall. He urinated in his canteen. He talked back to the drill instructors. He refused to shave.

Finally, he set out toward the main gate as if to head home. He was blocked, but now he had the chance to tell his superiors a secret: He was autistic. Fry figured this admission would persuade the Marines to let him return to the group home in Irvine for disturbed young adults where he was living when he enlisted.

Instead, he was sent back to Platoon 1021, Company B. The drill instructors became more helpful, and in April 2008 he finished the grueling 11-week regimen and was sent to Camp Pendleton for infantry training.

Within weeks he was under arrest for desertion and possession of child pornography.

According to court documents, Fry's recruiter knew he was autistic. The Marine Corps is investigating the recruiter's conduct.

When he was 18, his grandmother went to court to become Fry's legal conservator. Under the conservatorship, Fry is prohibited from signing contracts without his grandmother's approval.

Mary Beth Fry said that she told the recruiter her grandson needed her approval to enlist, but that he ignored her.

Fry's lawyer, Michael Studenka, sought to have the charges dismissed and Fry discharged on the grounds that he should not have been allowed to enlist because he cannot legally sign contracts. A Marine judge rejected that motion.

Full Article and Source:
Case of autistic Marine brings recruiting problems to the forefront

Legislation to Stop Senior Abuse

Legislation and local efforts are being made to protect the senior population against abuse.

State Rep. Jennifer Haase has recently revealed new legislation that takes aim at preventing the mistreatment of senior citizens, whether it's for financial exploitation or physical and sexual abuse.

Sandy Keown, director of the Romeo Senior Center and Washington Senior Center, said the problem isn't very prevalent in the area, but she has seen cases of elderly abuse over the years.

"Seniors are being preyed on so much, especially in this economy, and they are just so trusting, so it's really sad when we see things happen."

She said roughly 30 to 40 percent of the local population is made of seniors, and is growing at an increasing rate as Baby Boomers begin to reach their senior years.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) say the crime is under reported, estimating more than 73,000 of Michigan's adults are abused each year.

"Senior abuse is a very tough problem because no one wants to admit there's a problem. The seniors are afraid that if they say anything, it gets worse for them, and sometimes it does."

Full Article and Source:
Preventative measures taken to stop elder abuse

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sheila Gast Faces Judge

A woman that was once hired to protect the elderly and disabled found herself face to face with a judge. It was a day critics of Sheila Gast had waited for, hoping she would go to jail for telling a lie under oath.

Courts appointed Sheila Gast to make financial and personal decisions for hundreds of Minnesotans.

A number of families have told FOX 9 that Gast did a poor job taking care of their loved ones. They don't feel the court listened to those complaints so they were hoping for some kind of justice when she was charged with perjury for lying under oath.

Gast had testified she was a nurse.

It is a claim she also made to clients. It was something that mattered to the loved ones of those she was supposed to protect.

However Gast is not a nurse. She pleaded guilty to lying about it and on Tuesday she told a judge she was so sorry. The judge spared her a jail term, instead sentencing her to community service and a $3,000 fine.

Families of loved ones don’t think Gast got near enough punishment. Gast has lost her career as a professional guardian and conservator.

Full Article and Source:
Caregiver Faces Judge for Lying Under Oath

See also:
Sheila Gast Sentencing

Jaskson's Mom Loses Control of Estate

On the eve of his memorial service, control of Michael Jackson's estate slipped out of his mother's hands. A Los Angeles judge ruled Monday that Jackson's 2002 will -- naming attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain as executors -- is valid.

Full Article and Source:
Jackson's mom loses control of estate

More information:
A judge said that Michael Jackson's longtime attorney and a family friend should take over the pop singer's estate for now, rejecting a request from his mother, Katherine Jackson, to be put in charge or share control.
Mother loses control of Michael Jackson's estate as fans trickle into LA for star-studded memorial

An army of lawyers appeared during the first major probate hearing involving Michael Jackson's estate on Monday, as everyone with a potential stake in Jackson's assets is now being represented by an attorney.
Lawyers Abound at Probate Hearing on Michael Jackson's Estate

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: When the dust settles, there could be so much money, hundreds of millions of dollars if the right people and handle Michael Jackson's estate the right way.
Inside the Battle Over Michael Jackson's Estate

Spears Dad Files $1.5M Bond

On June 28th Jamie Spears filed a legal document certifying that he’d taken out a $1.5 million bond to act as his daughter’s legal guardian.

The bond protects the person under the Conservatorship – that would be Britney in this case – from having their assets taken, and Radar reports that the Conservatorship will continue at least until the end of 2009.

Will Britney ever be in control of her life again? Or will she be under Daddy’s rules forever?

Jamie Spears Files $1.5 Million Bond to Continue as Conservator

More information:
BREAKING NEWS: Britney Spears’ Dad Puts Up $1.5 Million To Continue As Her Conservator

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lawyers Set to "Square Off"

Lawyers for Michael Jackson and his family on Sunday prepared to square off in a courtroom hearing over control of the singer's estate as media reports mounted about powerful drugs that may have contributed to his death.

One legal expert predicted the existence of a 2002 will signed by Jackson means his mother, 79-year-old Katherine Jackson, will likely be forced to give up temporary control she now has over his affairs.

Attorney Michael G. Dave: "Given the existence of the will and the expression of Michael's intentions, the only likely outcome is Katherine's powers will be terminated and she will no longer have any power to deal with the estate."

Katherine Jackson was granted temporary administrator of her son's affairs last week before the will became known.

It puts his estate, which in an attachment is valued at more than $500 million, into a family trust that benefits his three children, his mother, and charities.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyers set to square off over Michael Jackson estate

Attorney Wants Statements Suppressed

The attorney for a woman accused of killing her newborn daughter says the woman's statements to law enforcement shouldn't be used in court because officers were not diligent enough in getting information about her mental health.

Defense attorney Tim Purdon argued that Gennifer Glum's statements to detectives during an hour-and-a-half interview while she was in the hospital should be suppressed, as her guardians did not consent to waive her Miranda rights.

Glum was charged in December 2007 with Class AAfelony murder for the Dec. 6, 2007, asphyxiation death of her newborn daughter. She has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Glum was found by a judge to be an "incapacitated person" in Nebraska in 2005. Her parents were appointed to be her guardians, and she has lived with her father in Bismarck since then.

Full Article and Source:
Glum attempts to suppress statements

Real Estate Scam

State security officers served a search warrant at the office of a man charged with senior exploitation, as more victims continue to come forward in an investigation of a real estate scam.

Five more potential victims of Jamal Eljawaidi, also known as Jean Marc, came forward after Secretary of State Ross Miller issued an arrest warrant for him last week. Eljawaidi is still at large.

Eljawaidi initially was sought for elder exploitation in December 2004. The recent victims say they fell for investments with the real estate developer from 2005 through 2008.

In one case Eljwaidi took $400,000 from a 67-year-old man, who has been diagnosed with several mentally incapacitating conditions. Investigators said that Eljwaidi told the man he would be an equal partner in a commercial real estate venture.

Instead, Eljwaidi used up to $600,000, including the man's money, to live a lavish lifestyle while leaving the elderly man destitute.

With evidence gathered by investigators with the search warrant, Eljwaidi could face new charges including securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities, obtaining money under false pretenses and racketeering.

Eljwaidi's attorney, Steve Wolfson, also a Las Vegas City councilman, said in Justice Court recently that his client was out of the country. However, the Nevada Attorney General's Office said it has information that he is in the United States.

Anyone who knows where to find Eljwaidi or who invested with him or his companies, Babuski LLC and JKG Development, or anyone who believes they may have been a victim, is asked to call the Secretary of State's Office in Las Vegas at 486-2440, or (775) 688-1855 in Carson City.

Full Article and Source:
Officials searching for man accused of senior exploitation

Monday, July 6, 2009

Junk Justice

Lawyer Says Everyone Needs a Will

Attorney Ron Skrenes says even if you don't have millions of dollars... it's still important to have a will.

Skrenes says anyone over 18 years old should have one and if you get married or have children it needs to be updated.

He says there are five main reasons for a will.

1. To appoint a guardian for your children

2. To set up who will receive your property

3. To establish who will be in charge of dividing your assets

4. To establish a trust fund for any of your beneficiaries

5. To plan the amount of taxes on your estate

Full Article and Source:
Stevens Point Attorney Says Everyone Needs A Will

Controlled by Conservators

Thank you for informing the public about what it is like to be put under conservatorship [“Disorder in the Court,” 5/28/09]. This week, I still haven’t been given money to buy groceries and personal needs. The strange situation is that this is my own money which is controlled by the conservators! This all happened because of the auto accident in which my husband was killed and I was seriously injured, but I am now recovered. The last conservator promised this to be a temporary thing, but now it’s been almost four years. She is now turning me over to the Public Guardian, which I oppose.

Of course there is much money to be made off of me, so there is no hurry to conclude the conservatorship.

My own doctor of 20 years, Dr. George Halling, questions my need to be under conservatorship and wrote a letter to that effect. My court-appointed attorney has done nothing to support this letter or the neuropsychiatrist that I chose to evaluate me last year. Her evaluation stated that I didn’t need conservatorship, or caregiving. — Patricia Rosen

Full Article and Source:
Trouble With Probate

See also:
Judge Orders Private Conservator Be Replaced With Public Guardian

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Guardian Troubles

Guardian Troubles-Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey Part 1

Guardian Troubles-Part 2 - Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey

Guardian Troubles-Part 3 - Susan McLendon and Luke Humphrey

Guardian Troubles-Part 4 Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey

Guardian Troubles Part 5 Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey

Guardian Troubles Part 6 Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey

Guardian Troubles- Part 7 Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey

Susan and Bill Mclendon on Luke Humphrey at Glen Rose Nursing Home

Susan & Bill McLendon denied Access to visit son in Glen Rose Nursing Home
Part 2

Susan and Bill Mclendon denied access to son in Glen Rose Nursing Home
Part 3

Why the Restrictions on Visitation on Susan Mclendon and Luke Humphrey?

DCFS Often Fails Deadline

State auditors say the Illinois agency responsible for protecting children often fails to meet the deadline for a follow-up review of a child’s death.

The review comes after the Department of Children and Family Services’ formal investigation of possible child-abuse deaths. The goal is to see if there was any way to prevent the death and to improve handling of abuse cases.

DCFS is supposed to conduct a review within 90 days of the formal investigation being completed.

But the auditor general’s office reported that the average wait was 200 days after the child died. In one case, the follow-up review took well over a year – 496 days.

DCFS says a lack of staff contributed to the problem.

Ill. child-welfare agency slow to review deaths

See also:
Public Guardian Speaks Out

Probate Pitfalls

Michael Jackson’s will has been made public. Debbie Rowe says “I want my children.” The DEA is now investigating and the tour might go on. This story isn’t going away, but as much of the world watches to see how events unfold, one certainty exists - this scenario will provide great opportunity to expand the dialogue regarding probate corruption and estate abuse.

The probate aspects of this case are important. The legal industry will respond in lockstep to extoll the importance of "proper estate planning," but any analysis of inheritance rights issues shows that the best of estate plans can be rendered ineffective when assaulted by modern day grave robbers and other property poachers - often in concert with legal industry professionals who claimed (and were paid) to provide protection.

In fact, an estate of $500,000 - $1 million can be a dangerous "sweet spot" of special appeal for asset looters who use probate instruments (wills, trusts, guardianships or powers of attorney) to commit Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) acts that divert resources of the dead, disabled or incapacitated.

Lou Ann Anderson is an Examiner from Austin and blogs at Estate of Denial

Full Article and Source:
Jackson estate to enhance discussion of probate pitfalls