Monday, January 23, 2012

WI: Jeffrey Schend Theft Case Prompts Tougher Guardian Rules

Financial caretakers appointed to assist the elderly and disabled in Outagamie County face more stringent requirements after a former guardian was charged with siphoning nearly $500,000 from clients.

New rules that took effect Jan. 1 are aimed at adding safeguards to the guardianship system that prosecutors say was exploited by Jeffrey M. Schend of Appleton.

Schend faces a trial in March on six felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft charge. In watchdog reporting after his arrest last year, The Post-Crescent found that he operated within a system that relied largely on his word alone.

State law does not require detailed audits, the newspaper found. Even if the law did, the oversight office in Outagamie County would not be able to handle the workload, its director said at the time.

Generally, the new rules require guardians to provide more detailed financial records to Outagamie County's circuit courts as part of their responsibility to clients who are deemed incompetent to handle their own affairs.

Also, county officials now will choose guardianship cases randomly each year for review, and those guardians will be required to give the court all receipts and canceled checks for the year. And, the rules also establish fines for guardians whose failure to answer questions about their work require court intervention.

"It's a good idea," said Gary Apitz of Bryant, guardian for his 63-year-old developmentally disabled brother who lives in an Appleton nursing home. Schend had served as the guardian for Apitz's brother when he lived in Shawano County. A judge there ordered Schend to pay nearly $5,000 based on the man's unpaid bills.

"Every guardian should be responsible to explain what he's done," Apitz said.

Full Article and Source:
Jeffrey Schend Theft Case Prompts Tougher Guardian Rules

See Also:
Jeffrey Schend Released From Jail


StandUp said...

I must compliment the state of WI for getting on the stick to prevent future Schends.

B Inberg said...

It's good that the problems are in the news as a subject for discussion and debate. Being in a guardianship position is a test of a person's character.

Anonymous said...

Guardianship is a serious matter most folks don't even think about it until it happens so the best thing anyone and everyone over the age of 18 can do is to execute Durable Power of Attorney for health care and property which can be updated as necessary without that very important document in the event of an incident that leaves a person incapacitated temporarily or permanently guardianship will be the only alternative for your loved ones or a professional guardian.

People falsely assume family can step in and make decisions and that might be the case in some situations but that's a risky way to hope for the best.

Spouses need to DPOA each other or a trusted person. Husbands and wives are also at risk for having others come in controlling your spouse's life and assets.

Back in the day, in days gone by, guardianship was not an issue, it was a rare event, not so any more it seems there is an industry that saw a grand opportunity for profit even though many professionals will claim 'non-profit' firm.

Becky said...

Good going, state of Wisconsin!

Steve said...

Thank you for keeping us up on the Schend case. I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail.

And I join with others in being appreciative that WI is at least looking at ways to prevent another Schend incident.

Tougher rules are needed everywhere!

Owen said...

The only thing is the Schend type of stealing is pretty rare. Bad guardians do their thievery by overbilling and double billing, etc.

The state needs to consider this as well.

honeybear said...

Every guardian should be responsible to explain what he/she has done, but the problem is the judges aren't asking for explanation and when family asks, they are shut down.

Sue said...

I don't think enough state funding is available for guardianship. The number of cases is growing with expectations of explosion of in the number of adults who will need assistance.

People are living longer so the potential for being dependent on assistance is real yet the funding is lagging behind, the funding isn't keeping up with the increasing demand on the system so at this rate we are in trouble looking at an overwhelmed system with no real oversight.