Saturday, August 16, 2014

Julie Ferguson (FL) on The Nilon Report

Julie Ferguson guests on The Nilon Report and tells her personal story of her Mom and guardianship abuse. 

LISTEN to the archive of "The Nilon Report:  Julie Ferguson"

See Also:
Facebook:  Keep Marise in her Home

Lawyer Discipline in New York is "Seriously Deficient" Says NYU Law Professor Stephen Gillers

New York’s system for disciplining lawyers is shrouded in secrecy and riddled with inconsistency, according to a new paper by a leading legal ethics expert.

“A study of all lawyer discipline cases in New York from mid-2008 through 2013… reveals that the system for lawyer discipline in New York is seriously deficient,” writes New York University law professor Stephen Gillers.

The professor — whose article appears in the most recent issue of the “New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy” — levels a number of criticisms at the Empire State’s sanction system. One glaring weakness, he says, is how difficult it is for a prospective client to look up a lawyer’s disciplinary history.

Lawyer Discipline in New York is "Seriously Deficient" says NYU Professor

Colorado Editorial: Judicial Evaluations Need Serious Reform

Colorado's current judicial system must be improved to ensure that all Coloradans obtain the due process they deserve.

Over the last 10 years, the state judicial discipline commission has dismissed 97 percent of complaints against judges. 89.5 percent of complaints against judges are dismissed without any investigation whatsoever. Judges currently make the rules about the discipline of judges. The Honest Judge Amendment would bring both accountability and transparency to the judicial branch by transferring discipline of judges to the Independent Ethics Commission, (already responsible for disciplining executive and legislative branch officials).

A second initiative, Two-Thirds Majority proposes to increase the amount of "yes" votes a judge needs to receive in an uncontested retention election to a two-thirds majority. At present, judges need only obtain a simple majority of "yes" votes in an election where the judge has no opponent. This initiative applies to Colorado courts of record including county courts, district courts, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

Clean Up the Courts is a nonpartisan, grassroots issue committee focused on enhancing the integrity of the judicial process through judicial reform. Information and petitions to place these initiatives on the November state ballot can be found at

~Rosemary Van Gorder
Fort Collins

Judicial Evaluations Need Serious Reform

Friday, August 15, 2014

Inappropriate Use of Psychotropic Drugs Lands Former DoN in Prison, Others Plead No Contest

The use of psychotropic drugs in long-term care is a significant issue that every facility deals with.
This article examines a highly unusual case and also suggests what nursing facilities can expect from government regulators.

On January 9, Gwen Hughes, a former Director of Nursing (DON) at a skilled nursing facility, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to the California Attorney General (AG). Hughes pled no contest to a felony count of elder abuse with an added allegation that the abuse contributed to the death of a nursing home resident. She was also charged with “assault with a deadly weapon, to wit, Risperdal, a psychotropic medicine.” Because of their complicity in the “convenience drugging,” the facility’s former medical director and a former pharmacist also were charged with elder abuse, resulting in death; and assault with a deadly weapon (psychotropic medications).

Additionally, the facility’s former chief executive officer was charged with eight felony counts of elder abuse. According to the AG, she “allowed the staff to forcibly administer psychotropic medications to patients for their own convenience, rather than for their patients’ therapeutic interests.” [1]

In a gross deviation from accepted standards of care, Hughes, as DON, would initiate Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) meetings where she directed the pharmacist to write prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs for residents she considered “troublesome.”  Apart from the obvious problem with a nurse ordering drugs, Hughes ordered those drugs “not for therapeutic reasons, but instead to control and quiet them for the convenience of the staff.” But Hughes had willing accomplices. The pharmacist wrote the orders and the nurses administered the medication to the residents. For his part, Dr. Hoshang Pormir, the former medical director, signed the orders after the IDT meeting—sometimes, three weeks after the medication was given. Moreover, he neglected to examine the residents to determine if the psychotropic medications were medically necessary, according to the AG.

Astonishingly, when a resident refused the medications, she was “held down and injected with the psychotropic medicine by force.” According to a state investigator, “it took 4 or 5 staff to hold [the resident] down to administer the injection [Risperdal] against her will.” Three residents died as a result of the “convenience drugging,” while the others suffered serious adverse effects such as weight loss, lethargy, confusion and dehydration, according to official documents.

Former Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr., stated, “As [nursing home] administrator, Pamela Ott was ultimately responsible for safeguarding the welfare of her patients.

Full Article and Source:
Inappropriate Use of Psychotropic Drugs Lands Former DoN in Prison, Others Plead No Contest

Four Reasons Why States Need to Stop Inspecting Nursing Homes

John O'Connor
For as anyone who runs a facility in more than one state can tell you, the one thing that is consistent about the current survey process is its inconsistency.

That reality can be traced to a number of factors. But none help create mayhem more than this: Each state is in charge of inspecting the skilled care facilities within its borders. There are many reasons why it would be far better for the federal government to take over this responsibility.

Here are four:
1. More uniform surveyor training
By putting Uncle Sam in charge of training surveyors, we could ensure that the people being taught how to inspect facilities would receive identical training. That's hardly the case now. Unfortunately, when surveyors aren't properly trained, the result can be absolute chaos, as we just saw in Ohio.

2. More consistent inspections
Is a cracked egg cause for an immediate jeopardy citation? It depends. If you are in New Jersey it might be, but in Florida it might not. Why? Because state inspectors tend to show distinct patterns when it comes to the sorts of problems they tend to look for, or ignore.

3. Fewer delays between surveys
Surveys are supposed to happen every 15 months, at a minimum. That they don't has less to do with the element of surprise than the fact that many states are broke. States are sort of like people when it comes to spending: When funds are low or gone, items deemed non-essential tend to get put on hold.

As a practical matter, nursing home inspections routinely take a back seat to more pressing concerns when state coffers dry up. One result is that the time between surveys can dramatically increase. With all due respect, a lot of bad things can happen in a poorly run facility that hasn't been inspected in a few years.

4. Better care would result
This may be listed as the fourth item, but it's really the best reason of them all. Uniformly trained surveyors who consistently apply the rules are one of the best gifts our federal government can give the million-plus people who rely on skilled care facilities each year.

Full Article and Source:
Four Reasons Why States Need to Stop Inspecting Nursing Homes

Kidnapped by Probate Court

This could have been Sheri on the cover, if it hadn't been for the conspiracy to commit fraud on the Probate Court and to kidnap Sheri from her lawfully appointed guardian for the de-facto purpose of using Sheri to allegedly provide sex for her father and to allegedly earn lots of money for her Probate Court appointed guardian.

There is a tremendous amount of evidence that Sheri is a victim of human smuggling, isolation, and human trafficking by corrupt attorneys and guardians. This book presents the tip of the iceberg of the abuse, neglect, and smuggling of Sheri by her Probate Court Appointed guardians.

Sheri's human rights and constitutional rights are being severely abused.

Front page news: AWOL airman and kidnapped 9 year old daughter subject of a nationwide search for four days.

After four years of defeats in 4 courts with 4 courts and 6 judges that consistently ruled that John had to pay child support and John could not ever see his daughter again, because judges and juries ruled that John was a danger to Sheri. That didn't stop John the kidnapper, He went to the Probate Court to evade paying child support and to get possession of his sexual assault victim, his teenage daughter. The Probate Court allegedly ordered John and his attorney, Mike Haley to unlawfully violate District Court orders and to threaten Sheri's guardian with arrest and imprisonment on Judge's orders if she didn't cooperate with the forcible removal of Sheri from her guardian (Marie Bergman, the mother) and from her home with her mother. One year before John, applied with the probate to be named guardian of and to not have to child support, John was in court for allegedly taking Sheri to Dallas

Sheri has been and still is being forcibly isolated from family, friends, and the public for the rest of her life and transported around the country. Sheri needs help, she is being punished with abusive isolation by her guardians. Please read this book that is based on court records of Sheri being abused by her guardians. United we stand, divided we fall. Evil Triumphs, when good men fail to act., Edmund Burke.

Someday this guardian may be appointed your grandmother's guardian and will abuse and neglect your grandmother. Lets stop this use of the courts to shield guardians from criminal charges. A few days ago a two year old baby was allegedly murdered by her foster parents. Texas laws allow known criminals to be foster parents. There is substantial money involved in taking persons from good homes and placing them with known criminals that are able to use their wards for human trafficking.
Available through Amazon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Judge Calls Jared E. Shafer's Libel Suit "Acrimonious" and "Contemptuous"

Clark County District Court Judge David Barker on August 12, ordered all parties in a two year long libel lawsuit to resolve their differences in Court-Mandated Mediation.

He stayed all other proceedings in the case brought by for-hire guardian Jared E. Shafer, pending Court-Mandated Mediation which will take place in the next 30-45 days.  He also, on the record, explored a resolution of the case which would allow Defendants Rebecca Schultz and Charles Pascal a way out of the suit without admitting liability or paying anything to Plaintiff Shafer, et al.

Judge Barker referred to Shafer's lawsuit as "acrimonious" and "contentious," then asked Shafer's lawyers Alan Freer and  Ross Evans what their client's ultimate goal was in suing Schultz, and Pascal, who is indigent and legally blind?  Freer responded "My client's bottom line is to remove the 108 defamatory RipOff Reports.
Attorney D. Brian Boggess, appearing for Schultz, quickly responded that his client did not author the reports.

Judge Barker stated, "I can make that happen," saying that if the parties agree to Court-Mandated Mediation, he will issue a Court Order to RipOff Reports to remove the postings.

Mediation is a process whereby a neutral judge is asked by the trial judge to facilitate resolution between two or more parties. Freer and Evans accepted Judge Barker's Order without protest.

The Judge then asked Pascal, a pro-se Defendant who appeared telephonically, to make a one sentence statement as to whether he objected to the removal of the 108 RipOff Reports.

Pascal replied: "I did not author any of the RipOff Reports that are the subject of this lawsuit, your honor, so of course I don't object to their removal."

Judge Barker then asked attorney Boggess whether his client Rebecca Schultz had any objections to the removal of the 108 postings?

Boggess replied: "My client has never authored a RipOff Report about Mr. Shafer or any of his associates, so she has no objection to the postings being removed." This prolonged lawsuit, which has often been described as a good example of a "SLAPP suit," i.e., strategic lawsuit against public participation was brought against the families of two of Shafer's former "wards" who both claimed he converted hundreds of thousands of dollars from their loved one's trust accounts for his own use without rendering an accounting of how the funds were kept or utilized.

Shafer in 2012 accused Schultz and Pascal of conspiring to post the 108 allegedly defamatory articles about him on the Internet, but has been unsuccessful in proving they conspired, were the authors, or in stopping subsequent postings by anonymous authors.

Coincidently, many of the allegations in the 108 RipOff Reports about Shafer, et. al. are also being alleged in a 15 page Federal Civil Racketeering law suit filed in United States Federal Court on Friday, August 8, 2014, by 95 year old Guadalupe Olvera, a former "ward" of Shafer, and highly decorated WW 2 veteran.  Olvera is the father of Rebecca Schultz, and is also being represented by attorney Brian Boggess.

The Mediation is expected to occur within 45 days and be administered by Judge Jerry A. Wiese.  Pending the Court Order to remove the subject RipOff Reports, no further action is anticipated in this case.

Source:  Update from Steve Miller

READ the RipOff Reports

READ the 15 page lawsuit

Las Vegas "Guardian" Jared E. Shafer Sued for Embezzling $420,000.00 From 95-Year-Old Former "Ward"

Private Guardians Jared E. Shafer and Patience Bristol Sue Blind Man for Libel, Now Ask Taxpayers to Pay the Bill

Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease and depression.

But what many people don't realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.

1. Antianxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines)
2. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins)
3. Antiseizure drugs
4. Antidepressant drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants)
5. Narcotic painkillers
6. Parkinson's drugs (Dopamine agonists)
7. Hypertension drugs (Beta-blockers)
8. Sleeping aids (Nonbenzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics)
9. Incontinence drugs (Anticholinergics)
10. Antihistamines (First-generation)

Full Article and Source:
AARP:  Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

Circuit Judge Mike Maggio Cuts Deal on Judicial Ethics Probe

Judge Mike Maggio
Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway, who continues to draw more than $140,371 a year pay while not hearing any cases since the beginning of an ethics probe, has agreed to a settlement of his case before the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.

In it, he admits violations of ethics rules and agrees never to seek office again as judge. He  will be able to be paid for the rest of this year, which means he can continue to accrue retirement benefits. But he'll be suspended from acting as judge. He's done as a judge.

Each additional year of service qualifies a judge for pay equal to 3.2 percent of the salary of the office at retirement. Maggio, 53, took office as circuit judge in 2001, appointed to a vacancy by Gov. Mike Huckabee. He was elected twice. A judge must be 65 to take retirement benefits unless 20 years have been served.

Here's the lengthy findings of violations and agreed punishment.
Multiple complaints were merged to produce some core findings of violations, all related to his prolific postings as "geauxjudge" on an LSU fan website, tigerdroppings:

* He breached confidentiality in the case of an adopting mother, actress Charlize Theron, by revealing she'd adopted a child in Faulkner County.

* He had misused social media to the detriment of the judiciary by comments easily traced to a sitting judge. Ironically, some included pronouncements on poor judicial behavior by others. Some of his comments were posted while he sat on the bench hearing cases.

* He tried to clean up the record — thus removing evidence — after the news broke.

* He made improper comments as a sitting judge. The volume of comments suggested more than a problem of taste and decorum, the report said. "It adds up to demonstrate someone who is unfit for the bench." The record included sex jokes about bipolar women; blow jobs as wedding gifts; incest references; referring to teenagers' sex with teachers as trophy hunting, and remarks about how women make divorce decisions on emotion rather than common sense. He made jokes about the names of black people and derogatory remarks about gay people and Mexicans. Pages 3-6 of the report are a mind-numbing illustration of Maggio's lack of fitness to serve.

Full Article and Source:
Mike Maggio Cuts Deal on Judicial Ethics Probe; Will Never be Judge Again

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Doctor Accused of Vastly Overprescribing Antipsychotic to Nursing Home Residents Loses License

A Chicago psychiatrist has been stripped of his medical license over charges that he received kickbacks and overprescribed antipsychotic drug clozapine to nursing home residents.

An official with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation on Friday signed the order to indefinitely suspend the license of 71-year-old Michael Reinstein, M.D. The revocation will last a minimum of three years, at which time he can apply for reinstatement.

Reinstein at one time was the nation's No. 1 prescriber of clozapine, according to investigative journalism organization ProPublica. In 2012, federal authorities brought a lawsuit against him, charging that he received kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies and submitted “at least 140,000 false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for antipsychotic medications he prescribed for thousands of mentally ill patients in [Chicago] area nursing homes.” The matter is still pending.

In response to a 2009 investigation by ProPublica and The Chicago Tribune, Reinstein defended his use of clozapine to treat patients with schizophrenia. The news organizations pointed out that the FDA has approved the risky drug only as a last resort for schizophrenics, and Reinstein at one point admitted to having 75% of the residents at a 400-bed nursing home on the medication. Three deaths have been linked to clozapine prescribed by Reinstein, according to  ProPublica and the Tribune.

In March, Teva Pharmaceuticals and IVAX LLC reached a $27.6 million settlement with the Department of Justice over the alleged kickbacks to Reinstein. IVAX, which makes clozapine, became a Teva subsidiary in 2006.

Doctor Accused of Vastly Overprescribing Antipsychotic to Nursing Home Resident Loses License

See Also:
In Chicago’s Nursing Homes, a Psychiatrist Delivers High-Risk Meds, Cut-Rate Care

Texas Disabilities Issues Forum (TDIF) September 24, 2014


DVAP, ADAPT, The Arc of Texas, Texas Parent to Parent, and CTD are coordinating with a wide range of groups and individuals to host the Texas Disabilities Issues Forum (TxDIF). The Forum is an opportunity for voters who have interests and concerns about issues affecting Texans with disabilities to learn about the positions and potential policies of candidates from the Republican and Democrat parties, running for the top three statewide offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General).


9am - 4pm Wednesday, September 24, 2014 (times tentative).


Radisson Hotel, 111 Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78701

The Forum will also be Live Streamed for those unable to attend. Updates about the Live Stream location will be posted on this page.


The Forum is open to the public at $10 per seat. Spaces are going fast, so register now to guarantee your seat and avoid a wait list the day of the event.
Limited financial assistance is available*.
Accommodations available by request **.


The Forum will be a day long event, where the candidates or their representatives will address the issues in front of a live audience of interested voters. It will be an important event. Even more important is that informed voters go to the polls weeks later and cast their ballot.

For more information or to REGISTER

See Also:
GRADE:  Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly

Man Charged With Felony Financial Exploitation

A Rochester man faces multiple felonies after authorities say he spent nearly $80,000 of his mother's money without her permission.

Terry Joe Ruesink, 57, was charged by summons in Olmsted County District Court with four counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. His first court appearance is Sept. 11.

The investigation began when Olmsted County Adult Protection officials received a report of possible exploitation. The 82-year-old victim has been classified as a vulnerable adult after a 2009 diagnosis with dementia, court documents say; Ruesink was appointed as her power of attorney on Aug. 30. 
According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 15, Ruesink cashed a certificate of deposit worth nearly $86,000 that belonged to the woman, and deposited the entire amount into her money market account.
From Nov. 13 through Jan. 2, Ruesink allegedly spent a total of $70,113 on multiple items, including more than $51,000 on a lake home, $11,500 on a truck, nearly $4,000 to a roofing company and nearly $4,000 in cash to himself.

If convicted, Ruesink faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, a fine of $200,000, or both.

Full Article and Source:
Man Charged With Felony Financial Exploitation

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Las Vegas "Guardian" Jared E. Shafer Sued for "Embezzling" $420,000.00 from 95-Year-Old Former "Ward"

“Shafer and the other Defendants herein are responsible for embezzling, taking under wrongful pretenses and otherwise fraudulently or wrongfully diminishing the value of Olvera’s and the Trust’s assets in an amount to be proved at trial, but in excess of $420,000.00.”

Shafer embezzled funds from the bank accounts of the Guardianship Estate of Guadalupe Olvera, by submitting false or inflated invoices for payment and by taking possession of social security and pension funds without rendering an accounting of how those funds were kept and utilized.”

“By Defendants’ multiple fraudulent acts of embezzlement of funds and receiving possession of money in excess of $250.00, Defendants committed predicated racketeering acts.”

“Upon information and belief, many of the reimbursements paid by the Guardianship, Estate and/or Trust benefiting Guadalupe Olvera to PFSN were for charges made to the personal credit card(s) of Jared E. Shafer.”

World War 2 hero Guadalupe Olvera was discharged from the United States military in 1949 after two tours of duty, one in the Army, another in the Air Force. For the next 70 years, Olvera remained a soldier at heart.

15 page federal racketeering (RICO) lawsuitagainst Las Vegas for-hire guardian Jared E. Shafer; his company Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN); Shafer's employees Amy Deittrick and Patience Bristol; Wells Fargo Bank and its trust officers Eve Mills and Susan Bull; the Center for Guardianship Certification, Inc.; and Sun City Anthem Community Association, Inc. and their employee Cathy Elliot.

Olvera's problems began in November 2009 when his wife Carmela passed away, and he was deemed a ward of the Nevada court because of physical disabilities he suffered in the war including an almost complete loss of hearing.

According to Olvera's daughter Rebecca Schultz, "Cathy Elliot had kidnapped my father from his Sun City Anthem home so I couldn't see him. That caused me to contact the Guardianship Commissioner's office for “help”. A woman answering the phone for Jon Norheim referred me directly to Jared Shafer, giving me his unlisted home phone number. Shafer then referred me to his friend and attorney Elyse Tyrell,who had me sign temporary papers making Shafer guardian to get rid of the “exploiter” Elliott.

Everything Tyrell told me was one big fat lie, and as soon as Shafer was temporary guardian, Tyrell told me she “worked for Jared,” even though I had paid her to help me."

Schultz continued; “After Shafer and Tyrell removed my father from Cathy Elliot, I found it very disturbing that neither Shafer nor Tyrell did anything to pursue charges against Elliot or to complain to Sun City Anthem, given the fact that Tyrell stated to my husband and I that she had no doubt Elliot was an exploiter.”

Full Article and Source:
Las Vegas "Guardian" Jared E. Shafer Sued for "Embezzling" $420,000.00 from 95-Year-Old Former "Ward"

See Also:
READ the lawsuit

NASGA:  Lupe Olvera, NV/CA Victim

Hospital "Observation Stays" Scrutinized by Senate Aging Committee

 A Senate panel Wednesday highlighted instances in which Medicare patients got stuck with thousands of dollars in bills because their hospital stays were less than three days, the standard for Medicare to pay for subsequent care in a skilled nursing facility.

The leaders of the Senate Aging Committee sought to build support for legislation (S 569) that would count all days spent in the hospital toward the requirement. “Most people, after spending the night in a hospital would say that they have been ‘admitted’ to the hospital – that they are an inpatient of that hospital,” said Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the Aging Committee (Reichard, 7/30).

Hospital "Observation Stays" Scrutinized by Senate Aging Committee

Financial Elder Abuse is a Thriving Industry

In July, a woman in Bakersfield, California was charged with elder abuse after her 73-year-old mother was found living in a decrepit one-bedroom apartment with no working plumbing and a rodent infestation. While the exploitation of senior citizens is rarely this egregious, it's surprisingly common. According to a 2013 study, elder abuse and neglect are estimated to affect between 700,000 and 1.2 million elderly people a year.

The annual cost runs in the tens of billions of dollars. And an important subset of that abuse is financial, targeting people's retirement security and life savings. Last year, Consumer Reports recapped a recent survey of 2,600 financial planners, and the findings were astonishing: "56 percent said they knew older clients who had been subject to unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. Among reported cases, the average loss estimate was $140,500."

In June, the Senate appropriated $10 million for a new "elder justice initiative" to better prevent, investigate and prosecute abuse, including financial abuse. Better legal definition and stricter enforcement could help, but until that happens the best defense is to inform yourself and your loved ones of potential threats, and what to do about them.

Here are some of the most common sources of financial vulnerability that senior citizens face.
--Over the phone, by mail and email
--Bad advisers
--Family abuse

Full Article and Source:
Financial Elder Abuse is a Thriving Industry

Monday, August 11, 2014

Agent Scams Seniors out of More Than $2 mil

John Paul Slawinski, 59, was arrested at his home in Palm Desert on July 29, and is charged with five felony counts of financial elder abuse and five counts of burglary for allegedly ripping off five senior citizens for more than $2 million through the sale and surrender of investment annuity products. Bail is set at $2,000,000.

An investigation was launched by the Department of Insurance after receiving complaints regarding Slawinski's business practices involving the sale and surrender of annuity products. Investigators allege that Slawinski, a licensed insurance agent, convinced some victims to surrender annuities and investment products with the promise of higher returns through new investments and conned other victims into giving him money to invest for them. Slawinski did not purchase annuities or investment products, nor did he refund the victims' money.  "I find it particularly appalling when people in the position of trust violate that trust and take advantage of vulnerable senior citizens," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "Consumers should be able to trust their agent when making important insurance decisions. Consumers often rely on the advice of their agent when they are taken advantage of the result is often devastating."  Slawinski concealed his theft by providing the victims with fraudulent financial statements, and by issuing minimum investment payments to lead them to believe their insurance investment and life savings were secure.

Full Article and Source:
Agent Scams Seniors out of More Than $2mil

How to Stop a Guardianship in Florida - Petition for Incapacity

Jeffrey Skatoff
There are certain steps that, if in place prior to the guardianship proceeding, can avoid the guardianship altogether, even if a finding of incapacity has been made. These steps include the creation and funding of a revocable living trust, the creation of a durable power of attorney, and the creation of a health care proxy. The guardianship court is required to determine whether there are lesser restrictive means to protect the incapacitated person that a full fledged guardianship. If there are such less restrictive means, the guardianship court is required to to implement them instead of the guardianship, unless certain circumstances are present (which could be financial exploitation of the incapacitated person by the person named as fiduciary in the documents).

•A revocable trust is a trust that names a successor trustee to manage one's assets in the event of incapacity. If the assets have been retitled in the name of the revocable trust, the successor trustee will immediately assume control of the assets, obviating the need for a guardianship in many cases.

•A durable power of attorney gives to a named person (the agent) the right to control the finances of the principal who is now incapacitated. A durable power fo attorney is a well recognized document under Florida law.

•A health care proxy allows another person to make medical decisions on one's behalf.

With these three documents in place, the guardianship court may avoid the appointment of a guardian.

Full Article and Source:
How to Stop a Guardianship in Florida- Petition for Incapacity

Illinois: Public's Help Needed to Stop Elder Abuse

Reports of abuse and neglect of the elderly have become more common, and the trend seems only likely to continue as members of the baby boom generation enter their golden years.

Statewide, elder abuse has risen steadily since 2007. Recent national studies of the elderly population have shown that about 7 to 10 percent reported experiencing some kind of abuse in the previous year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.

There are many forms of elder abuse, and it can be inflicted unintentionally as well as willfully. Abuse of elderly people can be physical or emotional. It can include financial exploitation, confinement of an elderly person or passive neglect of an older person’s needs by an inexperienced caregiver.

Victims of elder abuse are often women with an average age of 79, according to the Illinois
Department on Aging website. That means the victim is probably a mother, and her abuser is likely an adult child, grandchild or other family member.

No matter how the abuse occurs, though, it must be stopped.

Experts said there are telltale signs of elder abuse, including changes in personality, missing regular appointments or changing schedule routines. Victims of physical abuse might have welts and bruises, and those suffering financial exploitation might be receiving calls from bill collectors or simply having a lower standard of living.

Illinois operates a 24-hour hotline for people to report suspected abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of an older person at 866-800-1409.

Under Illinois’ Adult Protective Services Act, people who report suspected abuse in good faith and cooperate with authorities are immune from criminal or civil liability.

Full Article and Source:
Our View: Public's Help Needed to Stop Elder Abuse

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Elder Law Advocates: "Let Ruby Go!"

Candice Schwager joins us today with GRADE leader Debby Valdez to tell the story of Ruby Peterson, a 93-year old woman being held against her will, falsely imprisoned and illegally chemically restrained at Silverado Senior Living, Sugarland Texas. The cause Let Ruby Go is featured on Facebook at Free Ruby from Silverado,

Candice Schwager, President of ElderLaw Advocates "Let Go of Ruby!"

Candice is a 15 year civil litigation attorney and serves as President of 2 nonprofits for the disabled, Attorneys for Special Needs Children and ElderLaw Advocates her website is http//

She practices in Houston, Texas. She's an advocate and attorney and has testified before the Texas Senate on special education issues. Her journey began like many before her, when her son's School District denied him a free appropriate public education in services he required as a result of his 31/2 months premature birth at one pound and retaliated against her personally for her advocacy. Candice is a 4 time recipient of awards by the Texas State Bar for outstanding provision of legal services to low income Texans, included in the Texas Bar Pro Bono College.

She has also been featured in the Houston Examiner as an inspiring woman.

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:

Police Commission Authorizes Probe of Shady Inheritance

The chairman of the city's Police Commission announced that the commission will authorize an independent review into circumstances surrounding Sgt. Aaron Goodwin's disputed $2.7 million inheritance after the estate is settled.

“The case will reach a conclusion, either through trial or mediation,” said Commissioner John Golumb. “At that point, the Police Commission will authorize an independent review of the events and decisions that were made, which have given rise to concerns both internally and externally.”
A mediation hearing about Goodwin's contested inheritance was held all day Monday, when lawyers for most of the parties discussed dollars and percentages that could settle the case without a trial, said attorney Jim Ritzo.
A 2009 will for the late Geraldine Webber was written by Ritzo and did not name Goodwin as a beneficiary. Hampton attorney Gary Holmes wrote a new will and trust for Webber in 2012, which leaves Goodwin the majority of her estate, including a riverfront home, stocks, bonds and a Cadillac.
Multiple parties are contesting the 2012 will and trust, alleging that Goodwin exerted undue influence over Webber while she was impaired by dementia. The case has prompted multiple news stories, has been widely discussed and motivated one retiree to protest in Market Square.
“We are sympathetic to the frustrations of the community over the commission's inability to address their concerns, due to the nature of the pending litigation and our effort to preserve the integrity of the process,” Golumb said. “We are, however, committed to addressing all concerns at the appropriate time.”
Ritzo said he attended much of Monday's mediation hearing and that attorney Alan Cronheim also represented his interests. Ritzo said he was never paid by Webber for the 25 years he worked as her attorney and submitted a $65,000 bill to her estate for those services.
Ritzo said the mediation hearing was presided over by retired judge and Portsmouth resident John Maher, who “worked hard” to facilitate an agreement. According to Ritzo, many proposals were discussed and the overall theme was to create a new estate document that's a combination of the 2009 will and the 2012 will and trust.
Specifics discussed during Monday's hearing are confidential, but a report summarizing the final outcome will be public, Ritzo said.
“I think the case will settle,” he said. “They discussed putting something together that will make everyone happy.”
Under the terms of Webber's 2009 will, the city police and fire departments were each designated to receive one-quarter of Webber's estate, after the sale of her home and assets. In the will and trust Webber endorsed in 2012, the departments are each named as $25,000 beneficiaries.
Webber's disabled grandson, Brett, is represented by attorney Lisa Bellanti. Webber's only living heir, he was excluded from the 2012 will and trust.
Any agreement reached Monday would have to be approved by a probate court judge. A trial to hear evidence in the case is scheduled for January 2015.
Webber died in December 2012 at age 94.

Texas: Avoid these Estates Code Form Blunders

Since 1955, the Texas Probate Code essentially has covered all of the laws pertaining to wills, estates, probate and guardianship. But this past January, the Texas Probate Code was incorporated into the Estates Code, and all forms were changed to reflect as much.

For a variety of reasons, which Bill Pargaman outlined in his Jan. 8 paper "The Story of the Texas Estates Code," our Legislature incorporated the Probate Code into a new code, the Texas Estates Code. The Legislature might have named the new code any variety of names, including "Estates and Guardianship Code" or "New Probate Code," but it ended up with the moniker of Estates Code. Most states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, whose statutes usually refer to "Probate Code" in their titles.

Since the change to the Estates Code, judges in Harris County still occasionally have to advise attorneys that there is no longer a Probate Code and that they have made handwritten changes into the furnished orders to reflect correct references to the Estates Code. Of all of the things that can go wrong in the practice of law, this is a minor faux pas, yet it is easily remedied.

To avoid that slightly sheepish feeling, conduct a quick review of the relevant sections of the Estates Code and make changes in forms to reference the "Estates Code" rather than the "Probate Code." It is, however, not sufficient just to use a "Find/Replace" processing program to change "Probate" into "Estates" in one's forms, because everything has a new number and some of the old Probate Code sections have been split across multiple Estate Code sections. For example §45 in the old Probate Code is now Estates Code §201.003.

With the adoption of the Estates Code, the statutory durable power of attorney form was also changed in two important respects. Attorneys can find the form at Estates Code §752.051. The "new" form now requires the principal to select powers to be granted to the agent; therefore, the principal needs to initial either in front of each power to be granted or to select the catchall language under selection "(N)," which covers all powers.

This is exactly opposite from the manner in which authority was granted under the prior form which required that the principal had to cross out powers the principal did not want the agent to have.

Full Article and Source:
Avoid These Estates Code Form Blunders

Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

S- Sudden changes in behavior, finances, or lifestyle;
P- Physical injuries, dehydration, or malnourishment;
E- Extreme withdrawal, depression, or anxiety;
A- Absence of basic care or necessities;
K- Kept away from others;

U- Unsanitary living conditions;
P- Personal items or money missing....