Friday, January 10, 2014

Woman’s financial watchdog failed to pay taxes on house

In a stark petition to the court last year, the Maricopa County public fiduciary asked permission to sell Cathy Jarnigan’s home of 41 years and move her to an apartment.

The fiduciary’s office said the move was “prudent and needed” because the 52-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, lacked the funds to pay three years of delinquent property taxes and that the sale of the house would keep it from foreclosure.

The fiduciary’s petition did not mention the property taxes became delinquent after the county stopped paying them in 2008. Nothing in court records, however, noted that a fiduciary office employee specifically notified Jarnigan that her taxes weren’t paid before the office sought to sell her home.

“I can’t say she wasn’t notified,” Public Fiduciary Catherine Robbins said in an interview last week. “I am also not going to say that she was.”

County fiduciaries largely limit their service to the poor. The county fiduciary is responsible for managing the health, welfare and finances of residents who are incapable of taking care of themselves. The fiduciary’s office is usually appointed by Maricopa County Probate Court judges to serve as someone’s guardian, conservator or personal representative.

The Jarnigan case underscores the potential for problems for people whose finances are administered by private and public fiduciaries and overseen by county probate court judges. A 2011 investigation by The Arizona Republic found that Maricopa County Probate Court judges rarely curtail fiduciary and legal fees, even when wards of the court end up broke and on state-paid care.

Robbins blamed the foreclosure on Jarnigan, saying she should have known her finances were running low and that she made personal decisions to use her money for home repairs and other expenses that prevented the fiduciary from being able to pay property taxes.

Robbins said Jarnigan put her “immediate needs” over paying property taxes and that case workers approved the expenses at the time.

Jarnigan said county officials never gave her any notice that her property taxes weren’t being paid until they sought to remove her from her home. She acknowledged making home repairs, buying college supplies and paying for dental work but said she was never advised the consequences of those decisions resulted in unpaid taxes.

“They never told me anything at all,” she said.

Nearly 20 years ago, in 1994, Jarnigan said she sought the county’s help to manage her finances because she realized that she was squandering a meager trust set up by her father to ensure that she could continue living in the family’s north Phoenix home after he died.

Jarnigan, who has had the debilitating illness since birth, didn’t have much. Her primary source of income is her parents’ Social Security payments, which today total about $1,400 per month. Court records show her only real asset is her house, where she has lived since 1972. It is valued at about $70,000.

By asking the county fiduciary to serve as her conservator, Jarnigan relinquished control of her finances. Decisions about expenses were made by case workers. The fiduciary’s office each year submitted detailed accounts of expenditures to probate court. Judges regularly approved the accounting without raising red flags, even when the county stopped paying taxes.

Full Article and Source:
Woman’s financial watchdog failed to pay taxes on house


Thelma said...

If there were criminal charges for this type of situation, it could be stopped.

Betty said...

This is what they do. They're protecting the money for their billing and then try to stick family with the tax bill later.

Tina D said...

I agree Betty this happens more times than we can count does anyone know the approximate number of homes, townhouses, condominiums that went into foreclosure or tax delinquent sale due to the ongoing failures of the court appointed guardian or conservaotrs?

When will the public wake up? And see the pattern of operation, the crimes, unethical conduct, fraud on the courts and fraud on us the public, the taxpayers?

We are the ones paying these good for nothing crooks and liars in the public and state protection system aka Public Guardian aka Public Office of GREED aka PiG's.

Wake up people - YOU are next!!!

Thelma said...

Exactly right. Protect the cash flow.