Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tell Your Story: Introducing the Voices of Patient Harm

Over the last year, ProPublica has been investigating patient harm, one of the leading causes of death in America, and inviting providers and patients to share their experiences with our reporters. We’ve received hundreds of responses, and continue to report based on those tips as well as insights shared in our growing Facebook community.
Today, we’re expanding our call for stories with the Voices of Patient Harm, a new Tumblr featuring a mosaic of personal stories from people affected by patient safety issues. There are those who've been harmed directly, like Carla Muss-Jacobs, who describes the consequences of a surgical injury:
The injuries I sustained were NOT the standard “known risks." It was later discovered by my highly experienced medical expert that I did not need a total knee athroplasty, there was no medical evidence for the procedure. I was butchered and used as a medical guinea pig.
And there are others who have watched as loved ones suffered, like Veronica James, who recounts the injury and death of her mother, Vera Eliscu, in acute-care hospital in New Jersey:
After her injury, Mom never spoke again nor barely moved. I learned coma-stimulation, and became her therapist, as [physical therapists] refused to exercise her. From Jan. 09 until her Wrongful Death in Aug 09, I spent 7 days a week advocating in facilities on Mom’s behalf, documenting her med’s and [hospital-acquired illnesses] ... bringing in acupuncture & nutrition, and fighting with staff, firing 3 doctors in the process.
Have you been affected by patient harm? Help us capture the stories behind the statistics by sharing your story and photo with us here. 

Full Article and Source:
Introducing the Voices of Patient Harm

9 Investigates central Florida legal guardians

ORLANDO, Fla. — Legal guardians are entrusted with the protection of central Florida's most vulnerable residents, but a three-month Eyewitness News investigation has uncovered over-billing and neglect complaints in the statewide guardianship system.

Investigative reporter Christopher Heath has combed through hundreds of pages of documents and learned there is little oversight of professional guardians. He also found out why those working to change the system are running into opposition that stretches all the way to Tallahassee.

Mae Williams, the mother of one ward requiring the care of a guardian, talked to Heath.

"She was real sick, and they got the head man in the place to put her in the hospital," Williams explained.

Williams' adult daughter had been living at a Maitland nursing home when she became ill, but her court-appointed guardian wasn't only unavailable to make a decision for her care, she was out of the country.

The family began a letter-writing campaign, pleading with the court to remove the guardian.

Channel 9 obtained the correspondence sent to Ninth Circuit Court officials. Eventually, the guardian resigned.

Full Article and Source:
9 Investigates central Florida legal guardians

Hicks: Amanda Bynes' parents seeking guardianship

Amanda Bynes, accompanied
by attorney Gerald Shargel
Amanda Bynes' parents are going to court on Friday to ask for a temporary guardianship of their daughter, according to E! Online.
Bynes was detained Monday night on a 72-hour psychiatric hold after allegedly setting a fire in the driveway of a home near her parents' house in Thousand Oaks. No injuries were reported and Bynes was not arrested, but bystanders have attested to seeing the actress' pants on fire.

This is where I do not make a "liar liar" joke.

One witness told the website the 27-year-old Bynes was "frantic and discombobulated."

TMZ reported Thursday that sources close to the situation say at the facility where Bynes is staying say that she's lucid forlong stretches, then goes off the handle for shorter amounts of time.

Doctors reportedly have already determined Bynes is suffering from a severe mental illness "with schizophrenic tendencies." The website reported that Bynes is aware "there's a good Amanda and a bad Amanda." Talking about the bad Amanda she almost mimics an exorcism, pulling at her body as if to remove the demon, and even biting herself.

The sources also supposedly said she's had to be physically restrained. She was initially in a room with another patient, but reportedly berated her roomate until she was moved.

Full Article and Source:
Hicks: Amanda Bynes' parents seeking guardianship

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cops: 4 men found held in 'deplorable' Texas home

HOUSTON (AP) — Four men found living in "deplorable conditions" in a Houston garage on Friday told police that they were being held captive after being lured by promises of food and cigarettes so that their captor could cash their public-assistance checks, authorities said.

Three of the men were malnourished and taken to a hospital after being discovered by officers responding to a 911 call about the home, Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said. Sgt. Steven Murdock described the living conditions as like a "dungeon."

Investigators were still trying to determine how long the men lived there, but they said it may have been weeks.

Silva said the men told investigators they were forced to live in the garage — which included just one chair, no bed and a possibly malfunctioning air conditioner — so their captor could cash their assistance checks. She said the men were "given scraps to eat."

Full Article and Source:
Cops: 4 men found held in 'deplorable' Texas home

Rapper Sorry For ‘Offensive’ Autism Lyric

After making critical mentions about autism in a recently-released song, a hip-hop recording artist is apologizing.

J. Cole took heat in recent weeks from many autism advocates over a verse he contributed to Drake’s “Jodeci Freestyle.” In the song, Cole says that he’s “artistic” while his rivals are “autistic, retarded.”

Now the rapper is expressing regret.

“When I first saw a comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away that what I said was wrong,” Cole wrote in a blog post. “I should have known better.”

Cole said the criticism directed his way prompted him to read stories online about parents’ experiences raising children with autism and he is now looking to education himself more about the developmental disorder.

“To the parents who are fighting through the frustrations that must come with raising a child with severe autism, finding strength and patience that they never knew they had; to the college student with Asperger’s syndrome; to all those overcoming autism. You deserve medals, not disrespect. I hope you accept my sincere apology,” Cole wrote.

Full Article and Source:
Rapper Sorry For ‘Offensive’ Autism Lyric

Communities Combating Elder Abuse Issues In Texas

Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) July 22, 2013 – Statewide, there were close to 60,000 victims of elder abuse, exploitation or neglect in 2012.

There are more than 2.4 million Texans age 65 and older. Investigations found that 40 percent of the individuals abusing, neglecting or financially exploiting the elderly were the victims’ adult children.

According to Ross Jackson, the regional director for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Region 7, many of the cases included neglectful self-care, elderly individuals who were locked inside and unable to get out, and bed-ridden elders who were not properly cared for. Elder abuse and neglect runs the gamut from overt physical abuse to general neglect, said Jackson.

There were at least 3,000 suspected cases of elder neglect or abuse in Travis County last year. After investigations were completed, almost 2,000 cases were confirmed. But the number of abuse cases in Williamson County are lower than average, in large part, Jackson says, because the number of higher-income households means more elderly people can afford to pay for outside care services, and because of the concerted community efforts of law enforcement and elder advocates.

“Elder abuse is widespread throughout the state, as well as the country, but generally varies by income level,” stated John Hale, a Dallas elder law attorney. “Communities with more funds include more funds for senior support and outreach.”

In Williamson County, there were a little more than 700 suspected cases of elder neglect or abuse. More than 540 of those cases were later confirmed, said officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Jackson applauds the anti-elder abuse efforts of the Williamson County law enforcement and government leaders.

The assistant commissioner for Adult Protective Services at DFPS, Beth Engelking, stated that the signs of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation should be recognizable to everyone so that they can report them. But more commonly, Engelking added, are situations where disabled or elderly individuals are not able to adequately care for themselves and need support.

Communities successfully combating  elder abuse issues typically put the same basic systems in place, including: developing a local Adult Protective Services group; publicizing services for the elderly and disabled such as meal delivery, transportation, pet and yard care; and encouraging neighbors to get to know each other, especially cross-generational neighbors, through annual block parties and other outreach efforts.

John Hale is a Dallas elder law attorney and Dallas estate planning lawyer with The Hale Law Firm.

Full Article and Source:
Communities Combating Elder Abuse Issues In Texas

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Judge grants prosecutors access to some of guardian's records

Federal prosecutors can obtain information on tax and criminal law classes taken by former Lackawanna County guardian ad litem Danielle Ross, but other documents related to extracurricular activities and disciplinary reports are off-limits, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo agreed with prosecutors that some information they sought is relevant to the prosecution of Mrs. Ross on tax-evasion charges. But he limited the information they can obtain, agreeing with Mrs. Ross that a subpoena issued to Widener University School of Law was too broad.

The decision is among several pretrial rulings Judge Caputo issued Tuesday. He also granted Mrs. Ross' request that prosecutors disclose any information they have that might impeach the credibility of their witnesses, but denied her request to learn the identity of the witnesses.

Ms. Ross, 36, served as a court-appointed advocate to represent children in parent custody disputes. A grand jury indicted her in February on charges she failed to disclose about $200,000 in parents' payments from 2009 to 2010.

Full Article and Source:
Judge grants prosecutors access to some of guardian's records

LaPlace Lawyer Indicted for Felony Theft and Forgery

A LaPlace lawyer has been indicted in connection with stealing more than $50,000 from multiple clients, one of them elderly, prosecutors said today.

Kerry D. Brown, 42, of 144 East Lakeview Drive, was indicted Monday by a St. John the Baptist Parish grand jury on one count of felony theft, one count of compounding a felony, and six counts of forgery.

An investigation by Louisiana State Police and the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel revealed that Brown, a personal injury attorney, represented clients from October 2010 to April 2011 in several automobile accidents, allegedly failing to notify clients of settlements and failing to give funds to clients who were owed money. Brown surrendered to Louisiana State Police in May 2012 after a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Full Article and Source:
LaPlace Lawyer Indicted for Felony Theft and Forgery

Bank employee arrested for elderly exploitation

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. -- A Wells Fargo bank employee was arrested for stealing money from elderly customers in Flagler County on Friday.

Carmelo David Ortega, 37, of Palm Coast was arrested on three counts of exploitation of the elderly and one count of organized scheming to defraud.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, three customers of the bank discovered missing funds from their accounts after meeting with Ortega.

The investigation by Detective Henry Miller, which began in April, allegedly found that Ortega fraudulently withdrew around $6,000 in cash from the accounts of the victims.

The ages of the victims are 64, 84 and 86 years-old, according to SJCSO.

Full Article and Source:
Bank employee arrested for elderly exploitation

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Va. guardianship case tests rights of disabled

A guardianship case for a Virginia woman with Down syndrome is testing the rights of adults with disabilities to choose how they live.

The Washington Post reports ( ) that 29-year-old Margaret Jean "Jenny" Hatch has been fighting for nearly a year for the right to move in with friends who employed her at their thrift shop. Her parents want her to remain in a group home.

Hatch learned to read at the age of 6, has volunteered on Republican political campaigns and held a part-time job at the thrift shop for five years. She also has an IQ of 52 and tends to shower affection on strangers as well as friends.
The case, which will continue on July 29, has captured the attention of advocacy groups and Hampton Roads residents, who have turned the phrase "Justice for Jenny" into a mantra. For many, the legal fight is about not just who Hatch is but also whom she represents: anyone born with an intellectual disability or who ends up with one, through either age or mishap.

"There is a default assumption that people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental illness need people to make decisions for them, that they can't, with aid, fend for themselves. Which just isn't true," said Jennifer Mathis of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, one of several organizations that have expressed interest in the case to the court.

Hatch moved in with Kelly Morris and her fiance, Jim Talbert, after a family friend she was staying with lost her apartment. Hatch's father, Richard Hatch, lives in North Carolina and told Hatch's case manager he could not give his daughter the level of care she needed, court records show. Her mother, Julia Ross, and stepfather, Richard Ross, said in the case manager's report that Hatch had a contentious relationship with her mother and couldn't live in the home.

Both July Ross and Richard Hatch declined to be interviewed.

While living with Morris and Talbert in 2012, the couple learned Hatch had a better shot of receiving a Medicaid waiver, which would entitle her to in-home and community-based services, if she were homeless. So in May 2012, they convinced her to move into a group home where she stayed until August, when the Medicaid waiver was approved and she moved back in with the couple.

Two days later, the Rosses filed for guardianship. A Newport News judge placed Hatch under temporary guardianship and she has rotated between group homes and living with the Rosses.

The Rosses want the right to decide, among other things, she Hatch lives, whom she sees and what medical treatment she receives.

Read more here:

Full Article and Source:
Va. guardianship case tests rights of disabled

See Also:
'Justice for Jenny' Down syndrome guardianship case headed for trial

Kirk Kerkorian ex-wife, stepson drop move for conservatorship

Kirk Kerkorian's ex-wife and her son from another marriage have dropped their bids to be named conservators of the 96-year-old billionaire hotelier, who they maintained was in declining health, their attorney told a judge Monday.

During a brief hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas, lawyer Marshal Oldman said Lisa Bonder Kerkorian withdrew her petition Thursday and that 24-year-old Taylor Kreiss did the same on Monday.

Oldman declined to comment on his clients' change of position but said Bonder Kerkorian has also abandoned her attempt to have a guardian appointed on behalf of her ex-husband in a separate proceeding in family law court.

Attorney Margaret Lodise, who represents Kerkorian, argued in court papers that her client's ex-wife and Kreiss were using the conservatorship as a way of exerting pressure on the businessman to pay $500,000 a month in child support for Bonder Kerkorian's teenage daughter [information about the daughter has been removed by request].

Bonder Kerkorian filed her conservatorship documents May 10, stating that her former husband, who has assets estimated at $2.9 billion, was under the control of his financial advisers at the Tracinda Corp. and needed intervention. She and Kreiss filed an amended petition June 4, asking that they be named joint conservators over Kerkorian.

Full Article and Source:
Kirk Kerkorian ex-wife, stepson drop move for conservatorship

Deputies: Women solicited prostitution to exploit elderly man

Heather Zachman
An 86-year-old West Palm Beach man lost almost everything in his bank account to two 24-year-old women who offered themselves as prostitutes to get access to his home and money, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies say.

The pair — Heather M. Zachman, of Loxahatchee Groves, and Caroline P. Robinson, of Wellington — are now facing exploitation of the elderly charges. They've been locked up in the Palm Beach County Jail since being arrested Saturday, and are being held on $8,000 bond.

The elderly man's son called and asked deputies to check on his father, according to arrest reports, and on Friday, a deputy stopped by the house on Mango Drive.

During his investigation, the deputy discovered Zachman and Robinson had taken the man's card and withdrawn "large amounts of money" multiple times, nearly "depleting the entire account." The exact amount of money taken was not noted in the reports, but the two are charged with exploitation for less than $20,000.

The man told the deputy the pair threatened him repeatedly, telling him not to call law enforcement, the reports state. They hit him, intimidated him and kept him in fear for his safety, he said.

They also pawned several of his items without permission — including a widescreen TV, according to the report.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show Zachman and Robinson have each been arrested multiple times.

Full Article and Source:
Deputies: Women solicited prostitution to exploit elderly man

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Assisted Suicide and the Affordable Care Act

The controversy over federally endorsed abortion and its hidden surcharges has been well documented in conservative media. But there hasn’t been much coverage of late about the legislation’s  support for physician-assisted suicide.

Currently, only four states in the country legally allow assisted suicide. Vermont, Washington, and Oregon have unrestricted laws, meaning that the administration of life ending drugs is up to the discretion of the patient and his doctor (also it’s covered by insurance). In Montana, assisted suicide is legal through a court order. In the other 46 states, the practice is illegal and has been for most of the last century.

Section 1553

The piece of legislation in question is Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act, which reads as follows:
(a) In General – The Federal Government, and any State or local government or health care provider that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act) or any health plan created under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act), may not subject an individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the entity does not provide any health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or for the purpose of assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
To break it down, if a terminally ill patient requests that his doctor help him end his life, and the doctor refuses for moral reasons or whatever the case may be, that doctor is protected by federal law against discrimination. This can be a saving grace for doctors who may subsequently be targeted by insurance companies because of their refusal to help patients end their lives.

Full Article and Source:
Obamacare’s covert support of assisted suicide

Woman indicted in patients’ jewelry theft

Lacey R. Simmons, 25, of 1824 N. Sheridan Road is charged with three counts each of burglary and financial exploitation of a person with a disability. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Simmons is accused of taking jewelry from three patients at the Grand View Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in May.

Police said she told them she took some of the $3,000 in jewelry that was missing from the care center in late May.

Full Article and Source:
Woman indicted in patients’ jewelry theft

Texas judge found fatally shot in chambers

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas authorities say a state district judge in Corpus Christi was found dead from a gunshot wound in his chambers.

Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin  tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times  that State District Judge Tom Greenwell  was found dead from a gunshot wound Monday night. The newspaper reports Kaelin didn't answer questions after reporting the judge's identity. It was not known whether or not foul play was suspected. reported that the judge appeared to have died from a gunshot wound to the head in an apparent suicide.

Officials responded to the courthouse at about 7 p.m. after getting a report that a man was found with a gunshot wound to the head. The courthouse closed at 5 p.m.

The newspaper reports law enforcement officials weren't searching for an active shooter late Monday.

Full Article and Source:
Texas judge found fatally shot in chambers

Monday, July 22, 2013

For wife shut out by husband with dementia, 'a horror story'

Bunny Garst (center) and her sister-in-law
Mary Sheppard (left)
If there's such a thing as a typical marriage, Bunny and Claflin Garst's has never been one.
When they were introduced 42 years ago at a Bradenton real estate closing, they didn't think all that much of each other. She had just moved from New York, and wondered what kind of grown man would wear a short-sleeve shirt and a tie. He, in turn, was leery of the female broker in her citified business suit.
But the next time they met, she had on a bikini. “He liked that a lot better,” she recalls.
The longtime Manatee County judge, son of a prominent ranching family, and the divorcee with two children kept company for 11 years before tying the knot. Yet even as a married couple, they didn't always sleep under the same roof; she preferred her comfortable beach house to his spartan buffalo ranch.
But Bunny Garst, now 80, says she cooked, cleaned and cared for her husband through almost 30 years of marriage. She expected to keep doing so when his progressive dementia got out of hand in 2010.
Instead, she maintains, in the space of a morning quarrel he turned against her, refusing afterward to let her help him or even speak to him.
Today, after a bruising legal fight, the state of Florida controls Claflin Garst's fate. He has a personal lawyer and a professional guardian, who also has a lawyer — each earning fees that come out of his assets. Those assets also paid legal costs for two people who competed for the right to take care of him.

Full Article and Source:
For wife shut out by husband with dementia, 'a horror story'

Be on the Lookout: Con Artists Stealing Guardianship of Senior Parents

Senior adults have been targeted as easy victims in a number of different scams for the last two decades now, and it's only getting worse. Instead of just stealing money from them or ripping them off, con artists are now actually stealing guardianship of many senior adults. Some criminals have figured out that they can assume guardianship of elderly individuals just by telling a judge they are no longer mentally stable.

When approaching a judge, these crooks don't have to do anything to prove that they are related to the individual they are trying to assume guardianship of. Courts are so busy and over-packed with cases that they just don't have the time or resources to make sure that the person making the claim is on the up and up. There's no easy way to find out when this occurs, so family members often have no idea that someone is stealing guardianship of their parents and simply have no recourse in the event that it happens. Usually the ruling happens quickly and the victims have no idea when it happens.

If you have any aging parents, you have to look out for them and make sure they are not victimized.

From September 2007:  Full Article and Source:
Be on the Lookout:  Con Artists Stealing Guardianship of Senior Parents

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Jim and Lon: Separated by Greed and Deceit

After 34 Years together, Jim and Lon were separated due to the greed and deceit of Jim’s adoptive sister.

The past 6 years Jim has suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was hospitalized last year. His estranged sister filed for guardianship. Jim and Lon had constructed legal instruments, including giving each other power of attorney, (POA) which was  never revealed in court. The court was never informed that Lon even existed, that he and Jim had made formal arrangements with each other and Lon was never mentioned nor considered nor notified of the court hearings which gave the sister guardianship and total control over Jim’s life and assets.
The result?  Carolyn Heath Franks moved quickly and had her brother isolated and held in a nursing home.  Visitors, including Lon, are threatened with criminal trespass charges if they attempt to see him.  Lon has been physically dragged away from Jim and tossed into the street, and threatened.
All of this done to take the house, take the estate and to profit from the life’s work of Jim.  And all of this done by a sister who plays the organ at church and paints herself as a pillar of the community.

5:00 pm PST ...6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

See Also:
Five Legal Documents Same Sex Couples Need in Texas

NASGA:  Jim Heath, Texas Victim

Coming up July 30 on Frontline: Life and Death in Assisted Living

More and more elderly Americans are choosing to spend their later years in assisted living facilities, which have sprung up as an alternative to nursing homes. But is this loosely regulated, multi-billion dollar industry putting seniors at risk? In a major investigation with ProPublica, FRONTLINE examines the operations of the nation’s largest assisted living company, raising questions about the drive for profits and fatal lapses in care.

Life and Death in Assisted Living

See Also:

READ chapter 3 of Joe Roubicek's new book in progress, "KILL MOM, KILL DAD:  Disposing of the Elderly for Profit" on the subject of second generation drugs in nursing homes.

Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

Taking Care of Loved Ones: Guardianship and Conservatorship in Kentucky

Legal guardianship is designed to protect a legally disabled adult who can no longer meet his/her personal needs. The decision to pursue guardianship of an individual is never an easy decision. Often, such a decision emerges at the end of the road - e.g., when a family or friend has exhausted all other options and has no choice but to take legal action to ensure the proper care for and well-being of a loved one. The circumstances are never ideal, as common scenarios may involve a severely disabled child who has just reached the age of majority, or an elderly adult who is fighting Alzheimer's.

An individual for whom the Court appoints a guardian may lose some or all of his/her civil rights. In instances where a full guardianship is granted, for example, a person may lose basic rights that we typically take for granted, including the right to marry or divorce, hold office, make a contract or will, own or sell property, or obtain a drivers' license. In effect, the person is treated by law as a minor child without power to make his or her own substantive decisions. While the process can be emotionally painful, it is comforting that Kentucky courts recognize that guardianship is a serious, often life-changing issue. As a result, Kentucky generally has the most stringent guardianship statutes in the nation.

Any person concerned with the welfare of a person may initiate the guardianship process. First, a person must complete two forms: the Petition to Determine if Disabled and Application for Appointment of Fiduciary for Disabled Persons. These forms must be filed with the appropriate district court. The person asking for guardianship is referred to as the Petitioner, and the allegedly disabled person is designated as the Respondent.

Kentucky is the only state that requires a jury trial before a guardian can be appointed. Other states have provisions to provide for a jury if the disabled person requests it; however, the problem with this is evident -- if a person is believed to lack the ability to care for one's self, then it is possible he or she will not understand or comprehend the need for a jury.

Prior to trial, three professionals will generally examine the Respondent: a physician, psychologist, and social worker. This team will examine the Respondent at separate times to assess his/her abilities and needs. The findings are documented in a report, and include recommendations about if, and to what extent, guardianship is needed. These reports help to confirm and reassure a Petitioner that guardianship is the appropriate path or, alternatively, open his/her eyes to less-intrusive options.

Kentucky recognizes four different options for the care of a legally disabled person:

(1) A full guardianship, in which case a person is unable to take care of any of his needs;

(2) A limited guardianship, in which case a person can meet some, but not all, of his needs;

(3) A conservatorship, in which case the person only needs help with his finances; or

(4) A guardianship and conservatorship.

Pursuant to KRS 387.550, the professionals' reports can be filed with the initial Petition. If this occurs, then the district court will hold a hearing within 30 days. If these reports are not filed with the Petition, then the court will order the evaluations and schedule a hearing within 60 days of the filing date. All interested parties, including the Petitioner, Respondent, and the proposed guardian (if different from the Petitioner), must receive notice of the hearing date at least two weeks before the hearing. If additional time is needed before the hearing occurs, any party may file a motion with the court to request an extension.

The hearing is held before a six-person jury. The allegedly disabled person is generally required to be at the hearing. In some circumstances, exceptions may be made if the attendance will subject the person to a risk of harm. It is the jury, and not the Judge, who is vested with the power to determine an individual's fate with respect to guardianship. Kentucky not only requires a jury trial, but also vests the jury with explicit responsibilities to determine the extent of a person's disability, if any. KRS 387.580 requires a jury to:

(1) Inquire into the nature and extent of the general intellectual functioning of the respondent;

(2) Inquire into the respondent's capacity to make informed decisions concerning his personal affairs and financial resources;

(3) Determine whether the respondent is disabled, partially disabled, or has no disability in relation to the management of his financial resources; and

(4) Determine whether the respondent is disabled, partially disabled, or has not disability in relation to the management of his personal affairs.

The foregoing factors often help alleviate the emotion and bias of any individual juror involved in these matters. If the jury finds that the Respondent is not disabled, then the Petition is dismissed. If there is a finding of partial or full disability, then the Judge, without the aid of a jury, determines what kind of care the person (who will now legally be referred to as a "ward") should receive, what powers a guardian or conservator will have, and the duration of his/her appointment.

The Court helps ensure that wards receive proper care by requiring annual reports from a guardian, which detail information such as the ward's residence and location and the activities in which he or she is involved. When a conservator is appointed, the conservator has 60 days from appointment to assess the ward's assets and income and report such information to the Court. A bi-annual financial report is thereafter required to help ensure that a ward's assets are properly dispensed and accounted.

A person's assumption of a guardianship or conservatorship role should not be taken lightly. The primary purpose of Kentucky's guardianship laws is to protect citizens from harm. The Court recognizes, however, that guardianship or conservatorship is often necessary as a result of a particular individual's circumstances. If you are considering applying for guardianship or conservatorship, we can help. Our attorneys are experienced in every step of the way - from the decision of whether to apply for guardianship/conservatorship through trial.

Full Article and Source:
Taking Care of Loved Ones: Guardianship and Conservatorship in Kentucky

Man accused of stealing from elderly couple

A 51-year-old man today appeared in court facing theft and senior abuse charges.

Xavier Trace Douglas of My Lord’s Bay, Hamilton parish was charged with stealing a credit balance to the value of $70,000 belonging to an elderly couple.

Mr Douglas was also charged with abusing the couple by financial exploitation.

The offences allegedly happened on September 21 in Pembroke.

Full Article and Source:
Man accused of stealing from elderly couple