Saturday, November 21, 2015

Estate planning documents every young adult should have

Upon turning 18, a person is legally considered to be an adult, even if still dependent on his or her parents for financial support (or for making dental appointments!). This means that parents lose the ability to make certain financial and medical decisions on behalf of their child. Young adults can benefit from establishing a basic estate plan that includes:
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Health care proxy
  • Will

What is a durable power of attorney?

In a durable power of attorney, the young adult (“principal”) grants a designated agent the authority to make decisions regarding his or her financial assets. The power of attorney becomes effective when it is signed and may be revoked at any time while the principal is competent. An agent can act in a principal’s stead in a wide variety of financial matters, such as withdrawing money from a bank account, paying bills and filing tax returns.

A power of attorney can be particularly helpful while a child is away at college, traveling or studying abroad for a semester.

What is a health care proxy?

A health care proxy allows the young adult (the “principal”) to name an agent (or “surrogate”) to make health care decisions on his or her behalf. A health care proxy does not become effective until the principal is incapable of making his or her own health care decisions, and the principal may revoke it at any time while living and competent.

In an emergency situation, the designated agent (typically a parent of the young adult) can make medical decisions on the principal’s behalf and will be given access to the principal’s medical information. This is important so that the agent can make informed decisions on the child’s behalf. Without a health care proxy in effect, parents may encounter resistance from doctors or other medical personnel when the need arises.

A health care proxy may also include a “declaration of wishes” or a “living will,” which provides guidance to the health care agent when acting on behalf of the young adult.  (Continue Reading)

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Estate planning documents every young adult should have

Ottawa County to streamline abuse investigations

A handful of Ottawa County agencies recently signed on to a plan outlining how to report and handle abuse cases.

Simply put, the document sets up a strategy for county agencies to follow in the event an abuse case is reported or investigated. It also outlines the proper way to conduct joint investigations, collect evidence and protect confidentiality.

“Reports of elder abuse are on the rise,” Ottawa County commissioner Jo Ellen Regal said. “If a standardized process is in place all cases will be handled the same from filing of an abuse report to the investigation and possible prosecution. It will also be helpful when cases cross jurisdictional boundaries.”

Regal said most of the response procedures are already in place but are solidified in the memorandum.

Ottawa County Job and Family Services director Stephanie Kowal said they are in the process of collecting signatures from numerous departments and law enforcement agencies in the county for participation.

Kowal addressed the memorandum during a question and answer session with the Register:

Q: What prompted Ottawa County agencies to begin adopting this memorandum? Is it necessary?

A: Ohio House Bill 64 passed in October 2014, which became effective in September 2015. There are several provisions in that legislation, one of which is the implementation of a memorandum of understanding between required parties in each county. The deadline for all provisions of the law is July 2016. Ottawa County has been working on the understanding and other processes, prior to the legislation

Q: How will this change the current way abuse cases are reported, prevented or handled? 

A: Ottawa County began working on how adult protective services cases are referred, investigated and coordinated, prior to the legislation. This memorandum is more of a tool to spell out our processes and protocols, rather than a change to how cases are investigated. It is an opportunity to make sure that anyone working with seniors is aware of the process, who to report suspected abuse/exploitation or neglect to, and how the responsible agencies will collaborate to meet the needs presented.

Q: When will this memorandum be implemented?

A: The memorandum is effective already, and again, solidifies how we treat reported cases of elder abuse, exploitation or neglect. For example, a law enforcement agency that has not yet signed the memorandum already makes reports to our agency when they suspect an elderly person is being neglected or abused. Those parties who have not yet signed off on the document already report incidents to our office. We have staffed our Adult Protective Services through our Children Services Division, and so there is the ability to report 24/7. During business hours, reports can be made to the office 419-707-8639 or 800-665-1677. After hours, calls go to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office, and the on call worker is contacted.  (Continue Reading)

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Ottawa County to streamline abuse investigations

New Brain Institute Plans To Refocus Third World’s Attention On Dementia As ‘Societal Issue’

With dementia cases rising rapidly around the world, the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Dublin announced Monday the launch of an institute aimed at helping developing countries learn more about the disease and cope with the burden it places on patients, families and caregivers.

The Global Brain Health Institute, which will be housed both in San Francisco and Dublin, will train 600 neuroscientists, policymakers, economists and others over 15 years in an effort to help developing countries better understand dementia, as well as how to delay and prevent it. The institute plans to focus initially on countries in Latin America and the Southern Mediterranean region. Training is expected to begin next fall.

“A lot of these countries are the ones that are about to really see major shifts in their aging populations,” said Kristine Yaffe, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at UCSF. “And there are very limited dementia experts, or any kind of aging brain experts.”

An estimated 46.8 million people are living with dementia worldwide and that number is expected to nearly triple by 2050 as lifespans increase, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. Nearly 60 percent of all cases are in developing countries.

The disease is also increasingly a financial strain for communities and governments. Its estimated cost around the world is expected to reach $818 billion in 2016, according to the organization.

Dementia is becoming as important as communicable diseases and needs a global response, said Bruce Miller, a behavioral neurologist at UCSF who will co-lead the new Global Brain Health Institute. “We are really looking at a massive epidemic,” he said.

The institute is being funded with a $177 million gift from Atlantic Philanthropies, which was created by businessman Chuck Feeney. President Christopher G. Oechsli said he is hopeful that over time the institute will help improve the quality of life of people living with dementia; support families and caregivers; and change public policy. The institute will also aim to reduce the incidence of the disease across the world, he said.

“This is not just a health/science issue,” he said. “This is a societal issue.”  (Continue Reading)

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New Brain Institute Plans To Refocus Third World’s Attention On Dementia As ‘Societal Issue’

Friday, November 20, 2015

Volunteer advocacy group works to protect the elderly

Bloomington will soon welcome a new volunteer guardianship program for the elderly community to help combat legal and financial troubles.

According to an Area 10 Agency press release, Indiana is one of the few states that “does not have a state-supported public system of providing adult guardianship services for the indigent.”
The release goes on to state that though the need for these services is increasing in Indiana, support from the state has yet to rise, which will leave the elderly with limited resources through private institutions and volunteer pro bono attorney services.

“We have seen a huge need in our community to expand greater access to guardianship services for vulnerable at-risk people with nowhere else to turn,” Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal said in the release.

In order to help make services more readily available, Indiana created the Adult Guardianship Task Force, which pushed for legislative reform concerning senior care. The legislature responded with funding for the Indiana Supreme Court to “implement a Volunteer Advocate for Seniors or Incapacitated Adults or VASIA program.”

This program is run by volunteers trained by a guardianship program who are then designated by a judge to 
advocate for elders struggling with their affairs, according to the press release.

To attain a guardianship, the court will appoint a guardian to a person of need, and he or she will be responsible for handling the financial and legal proceedings. The appointed guardian will help elderly community members who are unable to make decisions for themselves due to ailments such as dementia or brain injury.

The presence of a guardian is meant to assure safety and respect for the person in need as well as to keep the person in need from getting financially and legally exploited, abused or neglected.

An appointed advisory board for the project helped raise the funds necessary to commence plans for the project, securing a grant from the Office of State Court Administration along with 25 percent of the grant in local matching funds from the Perry Township Trustees, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office and the Monroe County Council’s Sophia Travis Community Service Grant Program.

“We are now pleased to announce $38,500 in-state grant funding that we will use to create a volunteer guardianship program that will serve our local community,” Area 10 Executive Director Kerry Conway said in the 

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Volunteer advocacy group works to protect the elderly

Anti-Hacking Duties Don't Include Replacing Stolen Client Funds

By Joan C. Rogers

Nov. 17 — Lawyers who have taken reasonable security measures to safeguard their computer network aren't ethically obligated to replace client funds when hackers break in anyway and steal client money, the North Carolina bar's ethics committee concluded Oct. 23.

However, lawyers do have to restore client funds if they failed to take reasonable steps that could have prevented the theft, the committee said. It added that lawyers must help clients in several ways when a theft occurs.
Online Banking Hack
The opinion considers a lawyer's professional obligations in several scenarios when a third party steals funds from a trust account. It doesn't address a lawyer's potential legal liability for these losses.
In one scenario, a hacker gains illegal access to a lawyer's computer network and electronically transfers the balance of the funds in the client trust account to a separate account controlled by the hacker.

The lawyer doesn't have to replace the stolen funds, the committee advised, provided that she has taken reasonable care to minimize the risk to client funds by implementing reasonable security measures in keeping with the fiduciary obligations in the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct on safekeeping property.

As explained in North Carolina Formal Ethics Op. 2011-7 (2012), safety measures for online banking include strong password policies and procedures, the use of encryption and security software, hiring a technology expert for advice and making sure relevant firm members and staffers are trained on and abiding by the security procedures.

The lawyer whose network was hacked may be professionally obligated to replace the funds if she didn't use reasonable care in trust accounting and staff supervision and that failure was a proximate cause of the theft, the committee said.
‘Spoof' E-Mail in Real Estate Deal
In another scenario, a hacker gets a lawyer to send him funds the lawyer has received for a real estate closing by hacking the e-mail of one of the parties to the real estate transaction and then using a “spoof” e-mail address to send the lawyer instructions for wiring funds owed in the deal.

The lawyer doesn't notice that the e-mail address has one different letter, and she follows the instructions in the e-mail to wire the money without calling first to see why the e-mail instructs her to wire the money instead of mailing a check as previously arranged.

Under these circumstances, the committee said, the lawyer has a professional responsibility to replace the funds because she did not follow reasonable security measures to verify the disbursement change by calling the sender at the phone number listed in the lawyer's file or confirming the seller's e-mail address.

In yet another scenario, a third party unaffiliated with a lawyer creates counterfeit checks identical to the lawyer's trust account checks, makes checks payable to himself, and cashes them.

The committee advised that the lawyer is not ethically required to replace the stolen funds if she substantially complied with the ethics rules on trust accounting and staff supervision but was nevertheless victimized by the third-party theft.

However, the committee said the lawyer must promptly investigate and take steps to prevent further thefts and “must seek out every available option to remedy the situation,” including researching the law to determine whether the bank is liable; communicating with the bank about its liability and whether it has insurance to cover the loss; considering whether to close the affected trust account and transfer funds to a new account; and working with law enforcement to recover the funds.
Duties to Affected Clients
The opinion says that with regard to all these situations, the lawyer owes it to the affected clients to take steps that could include the following:

• Notify the clients of the theft and advise them about its consequences for the representation.
• Help the clients identify any source of funds, such as bank liability and insurance, to cover the losses.
• Seek a continuance or otherwise defer the clients' matter if necessary to protect their interests.
• Explain what happened to third parties or opposing parties to the extent necessary to protect the clients' interests.
• Take protective steps if stop payments are issued against outstanding checks.
• Report the theft to the state bar. 

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Five myths about baby boomers

By Sally Abrahms

Sally Abrahms is a freelance writer on baby boomers and aging.

There are 75.4 million baby boomers in the United States, people from 51 to 69 years old. They are the largest generation in American history, raised during the economic prosperity that followed World War II. Media and marketers have treated the generation as one enormous, monolithic group since their youth. But larger than the entire population of France, America’s baby boomers are a far more diverse demographic than any of their many stereotypes convey. The oldest boomer, born in 1946, was 18 years old when the youngest was just entering the world. It’s time to debunk some generalizations about the original Me Generation.

1. Boomers are wealthy.

Rather than downsizing, many empty nesters are snapping up second homes or moving into bigger quarters, seeking more prestige and space for friends and relatives to visit. For instance, the Lake Weir Preserve retirement community in central Florida offers custom homes with garages as huge as 3,000 square feet, to fit RVs, boats and classic-car collections. Increasingly, “retirement isn’t all about being practical,” Ken Dychtwald, founder and chief executive of the consulting firm Age Wave, told U.S. News & World Report this year.

Such stories of big spending have dominated popular perceptions of boomers in their later years.

But many boomers couldn’t be further from living that dream. While some benefit from multiple income streams, members of this sandwich generation often are saddled simultaneously with their children’s eye-popping college tuition payments and health expenses for their aging parents. Some have to leave their jobs to be full-time caregivers. A 2013 AARP study found that about 1 in 5 workers between ages 45 and 74 had either taken leave or quit a job to care for an adult family member in the past five years. That amounted to an average $303,880 in lost income (including pension and Social Security benefits) per caregiver, according to a MetLife estimate.

On top of that, there’s a mounting number of “gray divorce” couples who, in their 50s and 60s, suddenly have to divide assets they had counted on. Given boomers’ longer life expectancy, that translates into a lot more bills for many more years.

Savings aren’t helping them much. A Wells Fargo study released last month shows that working Americans age 60 or older have median savings of just $50,000, about $250,000 short of their goal. And plans to keep their jobs longer might not work. In the same study, 49 percent of retired respondents said they left the workforce earlier than expected, frequently because of health problems or an employer’s decision.

Boomers know that their financial situation is more precarious than others think. “When I talk to audiences around the country, I hear this palpable fear that boomers will outlive their money,” says personal finance expert Kerry Hannon, author of “Getting the Job You Want After 50.”

2. Boomers are healthier than their parents.

Baby boomers have the longest life expectancy in history. The average 65-year-old today can expect to live to 84.3 — nearly three years longer than a 65-year-old in 1980. New tests to screen for health issues, along with greater public awareness about the dangers of smoking, sitting and obesity, give boomers health advantages that their parents never had. Statins to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease weren’t even introduced until 1987. Boomers are tracking their fitness, tallying their steps and counting their calories. It’s natural to assume they are healthier than the previous generation.

But the data doesn’t agree. “We have all these medical advances, fitness and technology. There’s this belief that with so many more tools available that boomers have to be doing better, but it’s a misperception,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 showed that boomers were in worse health than their parents at about the same age. They had more disabilities and higher rates of chronic diseases. Just 13 percent of the studied boomers said they were in excellent health, compared with 32 percent of people from the previous generation. Boomers were more likely to be obese, exercised less, and had higher rates of hypertension and high cholesterol.

3. Boomers are selfish.

If you want to see how unpopular the cohort unfortunately nicknamed the Me Generation has become, just Google “baby boomers selfish.” My search returned 147,000 results, including headlines declaring them “The Worst Generation Ever.” Detractors complain that boomers stay too long at their jobs and in their homes, not making room for the next generation, spending their children’s inheritances and running up debt.

Elsewhere in this issue, Jim Tankersley writes, “the generation that was born into some of the strongest job growth in the history of America, gobbled up the best parts, and left its children and grandchildren with some bones to pick through and a big bill to pay.”

Not so fast. Boomers have been far more generous with their money than they’re given credit for, a benevolence that will continue after their deaths. The generation is poised to lead the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history. Researchers at Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimated that between 2007 and 2061, heirs will receive $36 trillion from deceased relatives, and $20.6 trillion will be given to charity. A new Merrill Lynch report credits boomers for an upcoming surge in charitable giving: Over the next 20 years, retirees will donate money and time worth $8 trillion. (Continue Reading)

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Five myths about baby boomers

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Adult Protective Services: Elder Abuse is No Laughing Matter

In spring 2015, California's legislature held a joint hearing on deficiencies in Adult Protective Services. Many APS investigators and managers testified to their lack of training and their inability to do their jobs.

The daughter of a elder abuse victim spoke of her mother being physically and sexually abused in an assisted living facility. APS substantiated the abuse and walked away. Social services workers smirked and laughed as the victim's daughter told her story.

YouTube:  Adult Protective Services:  Elder Abuse is No Laughing Matter

Arkansas judge accused of coercing young men into sex in exchange for lighter sentences

District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann
An Arkansas judge was accused of targeting “young Caucasian male litigants” and using his position to offer them lighter sentences in exchange for sex, the Arkansas Times reported.

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann would not only offer “substitutionary sentences” to men appearing before him in court, but also hand out lighter fines and sentences to them compared to women charged with similar offenses.

The commission said that Boeckmann would target men between the ages of 18 and 35 and have them do “community service” by picking up cans either along local roads or at his house. Once there, the group’s complaint stated, the judge would take pictures of their buttocks as they bent over to pick up the cans.

“Multiple male litigants have been photographed by Boeckmann during these ‘community serivce’ type sentences,” the complaint said. “Boeckmann maintained these photographs of male litigants’ buttocks in his home for his own personal use.”

According to the Arkansas Times, Boeckmann is accused of carrying out these illegal arrangements since 2009. One man mentioned in the statement said that the judge paid him to allow himself to be photographed in the nude as well as clothed, and also removed “pornographic images” from Boeckmann’s computer. The commission’s complaint stated “on information and belief” that Boeckmann had pictures of underage boys on his computer, which will lead to it being searched.

The judge is also accused of giving money to lawyers and law enforcement officials who appeared before him, as well as to the court itself for litigants who carried out his “substitutionary sentences” or with whom he had personal relationships.

Boeckmann has 30 days to respond to the commission’s allegation. However, the group does not have the authority to suspend him from the bench. The commission’s executive director, David Sachar, said that he has not ruled out asking the state Supreme Court to suspend Boeckmann if he does not agree to step down. The Times reported that Boeckmann is not running for re-election next year.

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Arkansas judge accused of coercing young men into sex in exchange for lighter sentences

York County officials say judge ‘deliberately manipulated’ court schedule to create a backlog

ALFRED, Maine – The York County Commissioners and part-time Probate Judge Robert M.A. Nadeau are embroiled in a contest over changes to the court schedule that commissioners charge have created a backlog and that the judge willfully made after they denied him a raise in pay.

The judge strongly denies the commissioners’ charges, saying in written communication with the county manager that they are “misinformed, inappropriate, inaccurate and rejected.”

The commissioners’ charges are contained in a five-page findings of fact written earlier this month based on testimony at a hearing on the issue in October. The accusations are the most recent against the judge, who is facing disciplinary action before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Judicial Code of Ethics violations.

The issue before the commissioners began last April, when Nadeau asked the commissioners to increase the number of days he works, from the current two days a week at an annual salary of $48,498 to either three days ($90,000) or five days ($120,000) a week.

Commissioners concluded Nadeau could continue to adequately perform his duties two days a week, based on information provided by Register of Probate Carol Lovejoy. They did raise his pay to $54,000 a year.

In the next several days, according to documents attached to the findings of fact, Nadeau told Lovejoy, among other things, to block off time for research and writing, restrict the number of cases he would hear and reschedule hearings from Wednesday and Thursday to Monday and Friday – a change commissioners charge allows Nadeau not to work on Monday holidays when the courts are closed.

Nadeau has said in both an eight-page letter and subsequent email to County Manager Gregory Zinser that he made the changes so the cases that come before him receive an adequate amount of his time. He switched to Mondays and Fridays, he said, so he can prepare on Fridays for Monday action.

Lovejoy testified at the hearing that the docket was current as of April 2015, and backlogs of routine matters occurred only afterward. But Nadeau said “the court’s schedule has historically been plagued by a substantial backlog, particularly a trial backlog, that I could never reduce.”

Commissioners said after listening to testimony at the October hearing, “the facts clearly establish there was no emergency to justify Judge Nadeau’s unilateral scheduling changes. Judge Nadeau has deliberately manipulated the Court schedule to create a backlog of cases in hopes of creating the appearance of need of more judicial time to mask the true purpose to obtain a significant pay raise.”

Zinser said in a subsequent interview that because Nadeau is an elected official and a judge, the commissioners can only request that he make changes but can’t force him to do so. He said the court loses about six days of court time under the current schedule, due to Monday holidays.

The county is researching whether “we have to pay him for days he’s not technically here.”

Zinser said Nadeau is mingling contested, uncontested and routine matters together to make his case. 

He said routine matters like name changes take as little as five minutes of the court’s time. There has always been a backlog of contested matters, he said, but before April it was only a two-week backlog. Now it is considerably longer.

Meanwhile, the SJC is considering an ethics infraction case against Nadeau, who also has a private practice in Biddeford. According to court documents, other lawyers have charged that Nadeau created a website for his job as probate judge that linked to the website of his private practice.

Past cases against him include a 2007 SJC suspension and a 2006 Board of Bar Overseers reprimand.

Full Article & Source:
York County officials say judge ‘deliberately manipulated’ court schedule to create a backlog

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Elder Abuse Task Force requests help

The Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force, in conjunction with Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta, are asking for help in identifying and reporting any substandard personal care homes

A typical personal care home is a licensed, private residence providing assistance for two or more elderly or disabled adults with essential daily activities, such as bathing, eating and dressing. Elderly residents are considered anyone not related to the owner by blood or marriage.

Due to the rise in the rate of neglectful personal care homes, the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force is asking for the public to report any home that does not meet the requirements listed above, as well as homes suspected of neglect, abuse, unsanitary conditions or any otherwise harmful situation for the elderly residents.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to the Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta Hotline, (404)577-TIPS. More information on the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force can be found at

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Elder Abuse Task Force request help

Colorado Public Hearing - Proposed Changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct

Public Hearing - Proposed Changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct

Guardian ad litem appointments decline

Officials say increased public awareness and less contentious legal battles have resulted in Augusta judges assigning far fewer court-appointed guardians this year to divorce and child-custody cases in Richmond and Columbia counties.

Superior Court records show guardian ad litem appointments are down nearly 80 percent in the two counties so far this year, decreasing from 157 assignments in 2013 and 102 last year to 34 as of the end of October.

Last week, officials offered differing views on why appointments have declined, but they agreed that litigants have made more of an effort to avoid the paid officials that judges tab to make child-support and custody recommendations after some families alleged they were overbilled in court.

In November 2014, an investigation by The Augusta Chronicle found that guardians in Richmond and Co­lum­­bia counties – some of whom were appointed twice as often as their peers – faced few restrictions and virtually no oversight in their billing, leaving many parents struggling with debt.

“Sometimes you want an unbiased fact-finder embedded in the family court process, and I think a few years ago we had an awful lot of that, but recently it seems like it has gotten very quiet,” Superior Court Judge Michael Annis said of Augusta’s program. “I have far fewer cases where guardians are requested. I have far fewer cases where it appears that a guardian would be helpful to the court.”

The Chronicle’s investigation looked at 5,460 domestic-relations cases dating back two years and found that bills were not collected or audited, no rules existed requiring judges to assign cases on a rotation basis, and guardians had the power to hold clients in contempt to recover unpaid fees.

The lack of accountability caused one guardian to resign; the program’s advisory association to dissolve; a judge to stop making appointments; case workers to wait months for assignments; and many parents to struggle paying off $470 to $1,500 in debts owed in divorce, child custody and DNA decisions.

A year later, the Augusta Bar Asso­cia­­tion’s Family Law Division has significantly revised billing, training and professional-conduct policies to provide general oversight and accountability for guardians, but some feel more work needs to be done.

Despite receiving a list from local attorneys certifying nine people as qualified guardians, Augusta judges still retain “absolute discretion” over appointments and continue to assign many of their cases to two custody evaluators accused of overcharging parents.

For example, seven of An­nis’ 11 appointments this year in Richmond and Co­lumbia counties have been issued to Angel Kendrick, one subject of complaints.

Annis said that Kendrick is reliable and that he has “the most confidence” in her work. He suggested that much of the complaints surrounding her stem from litigants who received an unfavorable recommendation from Kendrick in their case.

“She is available and can step in on short notice to help provide professional support to some of the most dysfunctional situations,” he said.

Annis said he feels the bar did a good job in developing new policies and that they were greatly needed, but he does not feel it has had much of an effect on guardian appointments.

According to updated rules, guardians cannot exceed $500 in fees in any case unless authorized by a judge, and they must provide invoices that include a brief description of all charges, payments and credits to date to both parties and their attorneys each month.

The revamped handbook also forced all guardians, including those who have served in the past, to pass an application process requiring five years of experience, two letters of recommendation and a training seminar certificate before being approved for appointments.

The new policy states that guardians can face termination from a case or removal if a report of “unprofessional, abusive, harassing or intimidating conduct” toward a client is substantiated by the Augusta Bar or a Superior Court judge.

“If anything, the whole process may have lessened litigant reliance on guardians,” Annis said. “Maybe there is more appreciation for the fact that if it is an expense people don’t need, then why should we appoint a guardian and incur those costs?”

Annis said he was aware that appointments have decreased but had no idea they had gone down so much. Though he did not have statistics to support his theory, he attributed the decline to fewer contentious cases being filed.

“A lot more cases seem to be going to mediation quicker,” said Annis, who fears fewer appointments might result in a loss of qualified guardians who want to serve.

Cheryl Glover, who organized Stop Parental Bullying three years ago to advocate for parents who felt mistreated by the program, said she was pleased the court seems to be less reliant on guardians. She believes increased public awareness and the outrage that resulted over the guardian system has caused appointments to go down.

“Personally, I think that judges are afraid to use guardians anymore,” Glover said. “The pressure to bring change has caused appointments to decrease.”

Judge Wade Padgett, who appointed 38 guardians in Richmond and Columbia counties in 2013 and 2014, stopped using custody evaluators because he no longer wanted to manage the program’s day-to-day activities.

Glover said she would like to see more judges follow Padgett’s lead, or at the least assign cases on a rotation to keep the system from becoming “biased.”

Judge J. David Roper, who leads all Augusta judges in guardian appointments, made 13 assignments in 2015, but since last year he has diversified his case distribution by divvying out assignments this year among six people, records show. Two cases were given to Kendrick and remain open. Roper continues to decline comment on the system.

Judge Cheryl Jolly, who did not return e-mails seeking comment, appointed Ja­net Wein­berger, another target of complaints, on July 28 to make a child-custody recommendation in a Rich­mond County case that remains open, court records show.

“The process remains unfair,” Glover said. “Judges are still picking and choosing who they want to serve on a case. There needs to be more checks and balances.”

Glover said her group will continue to seek stronger policies but is not certain changes will be made.

Tom Allgood, who led the bar’s subcommittee on guardian reform, said in June that each guardian passed a thorough application process. Since then, however, he has not returned e-mails seeking comment and has declined interview requests.

Full Article & Source:
Guardian ad litem appointments decline

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Marriage Concerns Insufficient To Warrant Guardianship

A family’s concerns about a 29-year-old man with Down syndrome wanting to marry are not sufficient reason to place him under guardianship, a judge has determined.

The mother and brother of a man known as D.D. in court papers sought to become his legal guardians in a Brooklyn, N.Y. court. Central to the petition, however, was D.D.’s desire to marry his girlfriend, Janice. He told the court that he is saving for an engagement ring.

D.D.’s mother adamantly opposes such a union, testifying that “Janice is too pushy.” The mother, referred to as Ms. D. in court documents, said that she worried a marriage would lead to a child with Down syndrome who the couple would be unable to care for.

While in court, D.D. stated that he wanted a guardian, but when interviewed away from his family members, he indicated otherwise.

In her decision, Surrogate’s Court Judge Margarita López Torres said she found no evidence that D.D. could not make medical or financial decisions and found that his desire to marry alone is no reason to impose guardianship.

“D.D. desires to choose whom he loves, to marry, to establish a home, and, perhaps, to bring up children some day; these are choices central to his personal dignity and autonomy and his pursuit of happiness, and they are his to make,” López Torres wrote in her decision.

“There is no doubt that the petitioners deeply love and are devoted to D.D. and are motivated by what they believe is in his best interest,” López Torres continued. “However, the standard here is not whether the petitioners can make better decisions than D.D., it is whether or not D.D. has the capacity to make decisions for himself with the support that he abundantly has.”

Full Article & Source:
Marriage Concerns Insufficient To Warrant Guardianship

Investigators Find MO Nursing Homes Caused or Contributed to Nearly 30 Deaths

By Jessica McMaster

State inspection reports show Missouri nursing homes have caused or contributed to more than two dozen deaths over the past three years.

41 Action News Investigators began reading through hundreds of online reports after the watchdog group, Families for Better Care, ranked Missouri the fourth worst state in the nation when it comes to nursing homes. The same group gave the state an overall F rating.

Nursing home inspection reports from Medicare for the past three years are posted on ProPublica’s website.

One of them was Mary Sales. Her daughter, Cindy Conner, remembers Sales as tough and fiercely independent. Sales, who had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in her later years, still managed to work part-time and lived on her own.

“She was strict; she was loud sometimes,” Conner said. “She loved to bake. She loved to cook. She loved to crochet.”

However, in October 2014, Sales became weak. She made the decision to move into Liberty Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

“She wasn’t supposed to be there for long,” Conner said. “She wasn’t there to live.”

Sales’ intentions while at Liberty Terrace were to grow stronger and go back to living a life of independence in her own home. But that never happened. Sales died less than two months after moving into the facility.

Could Sales’ death have been prevented?
In the days leading up to Sales’ death, Conner said she noticed her mom wasn’t doing well. She said Sales would frequently wind up sick in the bathroom. Conner told 41 Action News Investigators she expressed her concerns to the nursing staff, but they assured her everything was fine.

Conner said she trusted the reassurances she received until she stopped by the facility for one of her daily visits.

Conner said she arrived at Liberty Terrace at 3 p.m one day. Her mother’s pills, which were supposed to be taken at noon, were still sitting on a table by her bed, she said. Her mother was incoherent.

Sales went to the hospital that day. She died a few days later of C-Diff, bacteria that causes diarrhea and inflammation of the colon.

Conner said she held her mother’s hand in the hospital until she took her final breath. “I feel like I should’ve done more,” she said.

Shortly after Sales’ death, Conner began to question if it could have been prevented. According to the state’s investigation, it could have.

The state’s report said the staff at Liberty Terrace made several mistakes leading up to Sales’ death including misplacing physician orders, not following protocol for her medication and failing to notify her doctor in a timely manner of her worsening condition.

“There were people that came in and cared for her and cleaned her up daily…. How could it have not been reported? How could that not have been looked into?” Conner asked.

Deadly findings
The 41 Action News Investigators found the 27 other deaths include mistakes that involved medication errors, bedsores and staff not being properly trained in CPR. There was even a case where a resident was strangled by the seatbelt of his wheelchair because the chair was too big for him.

Brian Lee, director of Families for Better Care, said these types of deaths should never happen.

“To know that there’s almost 30 cases of wrongful death contributed to negligence or abuse, it’s very disturbing,” he said.

What’s even worse is that those are just the cases the state knows about. Lee said many more go unreported.

Why is Missouri’s ranking so low?
In regards to Missouri being ranked the fourth worst state when it comes to nursing homes, Lee said the poor rating is largely due to not having enough staff to care for the residents.

According to Medicare, on average, nurses spend about one hour and 44 minutes a day with each resident. However, the average for Missouri is just one hour and 22 minutes.

Only three other states fare worse than Missouri: Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Dakota.
Lee said the only way to fix the problem would be for state officials to get involved.

“If the nursing home industry can’t police itself, that’s what our government is there for … to intervene, to protect its people from abuse and neglect,” he said.

Despite several attempts from 41 Action News Investigators, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services declined to discuss the issues.

Liberty Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center was shut down in August after a series of complaints of abuse and neglect.

Conner said she knew something wasn’t right before her mother’s death, but she didn’t know what to do about it.  (Continue Reading)

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Investigators Find MO Nursing Homes Caused or Contributed to Nearly 30 Deaths

Monday, November 16, 2015

In the end, it wasn’t Anthony Barsotti’s demons that killed him

Anthony Barsotti, Jr. and Luann Barsotti holding picture of son Anthony

GAINESVILLE Anthony Barsotti looks on the verge of death. His skin is ashen, his face gaunt. His mouth gapes as he stares at the ceiling, sporadically sucking in breaths.

Three hours earlier, Anthony was a physically healthy 23-year-old living in the state’s care at a Gainesville mental hospital.

Then he took a swing at another mental patient and a hospital orderly launched him head-first into a concrete wall. Workers at North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center have a good chance to save his life this night in July 2010.

Instead, as hospital security cameras roll, they make one mistake after another.

When Anthony stumbles up with a cracked skull, they put a Band-Aid on his finger. When he clutches his head and howls in pain, they give him Tylenol.

When he stops talking and his body goes limp, no one checks him for a concussion.

It’s clear Anthony is in serious trouble. But for hours, no one calls 911.

Every year, judges send thousands of severely ill people to one of Florida’s mental hospitals because they are a danger to themselves or others. There, as the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported last Sunday, supervision is so lax that they assault each other over and over.

When injuries occur, overworked employees — some inept, others poorly trained, all of them underpaid and operating under pressure to keep costs down — often leave patients to fend for themselves.

No one intended for Anthony Barsotti to die. But his case points to a stark reality: Florida’s mental hospitals fail to protect the patients in their care.

Even when the staff on his ward gather around him near the end, they seem incapable of figuring out what to do.

“Look,” registered nurse Debra Engel says as he stares at the ceiling, catatonic, “I think he’s getting his color back.”


Dusty pictures of a little boy line the plywood walls of Luann and Anthony Barsotti Jr.’s rustic bungalow deep in the woods outside Ocala.

A toddler in a red and white jumpsuit at Christmas smiling from an Olan Mills studio shot. A boy with a big grin and a red backpack on the first day of kindergarten. A laughing 9-year-old making coleslaw with grandpa.

It is easiest to think back on moments like these, when their boy, Anthony III, was growing up in Ohio. Before the voices came.

His mother picks up a framed picture of Anthony as a young man with long, curly hair, posing like Popeye.

“He was a good son,” she says, dusting the glass with her shirt. “He didn’t deserve this.”

Anthony loved art and drawing. Once, he dressed up as Pablo Picasso for a school talent show. He taught himself to play the guitar. He read The Lord of the Rings. He loved the rain.

As he got older, there were baseball games and skateboard ramps. There was a girl named Eleanor.

Anthony’s father, abused as a boy by a priest in Ohio, was a schizophrenic who controlled the disease with medication. The son named after him would not be so lucky.

In 2006, his parents moved to Silver Springs, Florida, to start anew. Anthony stayed behind with his grandparents to finish high school.

Schizophrenia lurks in the brain, often emerging in late adolescence like a fierce beast. Soon brain cells stop communicating so that signals pile up, leading into a deceptive world of fake voices, hallucinations, delusions.

By November 2007, Anthony’s grandparents could no longer handle his fitful, sometimes bizarre behavior. They put him on a plane to Florida.  (Continue Reading)
d more here:

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In the end, it wasn’t Anthony Barsotti’s demons that killed him

Judicial reform efforts abound in PA Senate

The Senate was active Tuesday in calling for, reviewing, and moving legislation aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s judiciary.

Whether it’s the looming judicial elections putting a spotlight on the judicial branch, or the recent focus on Justice Michael Eakin’s emails, at least three reform efforts had some type of effort given to them.

The first happened with a press conference held by Senators Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) calling on Justice Eakin to resign while also announcing the introduction of legislation they say will bring increased transparency to Pennsylvania’s courts.

In particular, the senators said they plan on introducing a package of bills amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to reform the composition and conduct of the Court of Judicial Discipline and the Judicial Conduct Board.

They said they will also seek to limit the King’s Bench power and extraordinary jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in disciplinary matters, provide for circumstances of automatic judicial suspensions, and how the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania is selected.

Finally, they proposed amending the Commonwealth Attorneys Act to provide for a vacancy in the Office of Attorney General when there is a “disability” of the attorney general.

“The wolf is watching the henhouse,” Sen. Williams said at the Tuesday press conference. “The court is attempting to police itself and, unfortunately, there are far too many instances where clearly the public does not trust the court to police itself and—more importantly—the outcomes are inconsistent.”

Elsewhere in the Senate, Senate Judiciary Committee Majority Chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) was trying to revive a proposal he introduced that would create a commerce court in Pennsylvania that would have both original and appellate jurisdiction over business-related cases.

“I think it would help our economy, I think it would help our litigation issues when we are dealing with these complicated business disputes that we have individuals that are there that concentrate, specialize in just this issue,” he said. “We’ve had calls from Delaware afraid that we were going to take their business away from them…it is that important that it gets attention from business and other states that have chancery courts.”

While Sen. Greenleaf acknowledged there is a funding issue with developing the commerce courts, he implored his colleagues to move the concept out of the Judiciary Committee to show Pennsylvania is serious on this issue.

His effort was ultimately in vain, however, as members urged him to hold the bill over until the committee’s first meeting in November so as to give them time to review aspects of the legislation they find concerning.

One particular critic of the legislation was Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), who said that if businesses want quick resolution with expertise, they have the option of putting arbitration clauses in contracts.

He was also critical of taking the issue out of the general jurisdiction of common pleas judges, whose broad background and experience, he argued, is part of the strength of Pennsylvania’s judicial system.

“There’s no end to the specialization if that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to keep specializing to the point where every individual type of case in somebody’s opinion is special and we need someone who has expertise in just that area and I don’t think that’s the way to go,” he said.

Lastly, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the ongoing effort of Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) to increase the mandatory retirement age of Pennsylvania judges.

While the current mandatory retirement age is 70, Rep. Harper has sponsored a bill and a constitutional amendment that would increase that retirement age to 75.

Both measures cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday with only two negative votes.

The constitutional amendment is on its second passage through the General Assembly in the second consecutive session and—should it pass the Senate—would then go to the voters for their approval or denial of the amendment.

While the committee noted there is no fiscal impact from increasing the mandatory retirement age, requirements related to the advertising and holding the referendum could be as high as $1.5 million in FY 2015-2016.

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Judicial reform efforts abound in PA Senate

Protecting the Well-Being of Older Americans

Sen. Susan Collins
Editor’s note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging. Here, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the Influencers, blogs about the work she’s doing to protect older Americans.

As a Senator representing the state with the oldest median age, I am particularly focused on the well-being of America’s seniors. It has been my privilege to serve on the Senate Special Committee on Aging since my first days in the Senate and an honor to have been elected chairman for the 114th Congress.

The committee has three major priorities: investing in biomedical research targeting diseases that disproportionately affect older Americans, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes; protecting seniors against financial exploitation and scams and improving retirement security.  (Continue Reading)

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Protecting the Well-Being of Older Americans

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Athena Roe/HAR Justice: The Raping and Pillaging of Estates

Athena Roe is Founder and CEO of HAR Justice and The HAR Company. Through the HAR Company, Athena has devoted her time advocating for patients and consumers of health care services and educating the public about the Affordable Health Care Act. Personal experience and trauma led Athena to establish HAR Justice. Athena’s mission through the organization is to bring attention to the probate courts and civil justice system.

She obtained her Doctor of Law (JD) from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law; and a Bachelors of Business Administration Degree from Regis University. Athena pursued a law degree to gain a better knowledge of the justice system in order to lobby and make legislative changes and is an active alumna of University of Denver Alumni Association and a member Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Recently Athena wrote, directed and produced the documentary The Economic Rape of America: Exposing America’s Secret Wealth Exchanges. An independent investigation into probate courts and civil litigation that exposes America’s greatest wealth exchanges, the film was granted admission into 12 different film festivals. Athena has also worked as an editor for the Transportation Law Journal. She also belongs to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission and is a NAACP Community Member.

When she isn’t defending the consumer and inciting change in the legal system, Athena enjoys walking, running and swimming. She also spends time painting and frequents art museums. An avid foodie, Athena can also often be found cooking. She lives in Colorado Springs, USA, with her dog.

Bristol Who’s Who member Athena Roe, JD can be found on the Who’s Who Directory where she is looking forward to networking with you.

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

Elder Abuse Rules In The Works For Investment Industry

Several proposed new laws and regulations would require investment firms and advisors to report on, and prevent, the abuse of seniors.

The proposals, designed to address a growing number of financial-exploitation cases, would make it easier for the industry to report abuse and delay disbursement of funds in such cases.

State eldercare officials want more cooperation from financial firms in identifying victims and their assets. At the same time, financial institutions worry about violating privacy provisions in reporting abuse and hesitate to stop disbursements without court-ordered account freezes.

“There’s a risk of being sued by the account holder … particularly if [a firm’s] suspicions about abuse don’t pan out,” said Judith Shaw, Maine securities administrator and president of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

A model state law, developed by NASAA, would allow a 10-day hold on disbursements when firms and individual advisors reasonably believe financial exploitation of an investor 60 years of age or older is taking place.

Additionally, government agencies would gain broader access to firms’ records in such cases.

Even when they report cases, many financial institutions currently will not provide financial records to protective-service authorities, said Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Association, which supports the model law.

“They say it’s because of federal privacy laws,” Quinn said.

Importantly, the model act would also require reporting by advisors and firms to authorities when they see cases of suspected abuse—an idea the securities industry opposes.

Comments on the state law proposal closed last month.

In a related action, Finra last month asked for comment on a proposed new rule that would permit supervisors and compliance people to put temporary 15-day holds on disbursements from accounts owned by people age 65 and older (or otherwise impaired) when financial exploitation is suspected.

Comments on the Finra proposal, Regulatory Notice 15-37, are due November 30.

The Finra plan would allow “enough time to do an investigation, get into court, and really protect” the investor, said Wendy Cappelletto, supervising attorney in the office of the public guardian for Cook County, Ill.

On the Congressional front, senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), introduced a bill in October that would provide immunity from federal privacy violations for financial institutions and advisors who report suspected abuse to regulators or adult protective services agencies.  (Continue Reading)

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Elder Abuse Rules In The Works For Investment Industry

Penn College paralegal student lends expertise to task forces

Stormie B. Mauck

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Stormie B. Mauck has yet to earn her bachelor of science degree in legal assistant/paralegal studies, but the Pennsylvania College of Technology student already has a full-time job at a Williamsport law firm and is lending her expertise to two Lycoming County task forces — one focused on elder abuse and the other on heroin.

The Beech Creek resident, who says she’s known since middle school that a law career was ideal for her, is a civil litigation paralegal at Lepley, Engelman & Yaw and recently began volunteering for the Elder Law Task Force and Project Bald Eagle, a successor to the Heroin Task Force. Both initiatives are focused on community education and were spearheaded by Lycoming County President Judge Nancy L. Butts.

Mauck is assisting Butts in the development of the county’s Elder Law Task Force devoted to ensuring the rights of elderly and incapacitated populations are recognized and upheld. Last year, numerous recommendations handed down by the Elder Law Task Force of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania included the creation or continuation of elder abuse task forces in each county to develop best practices, facilitate information sharing, and enable and promote collaboration among service agencies and other organizations.

“The task force will work toward making the Lycoming County court system more accessible to our elders in cases involving abuse, neglect, guardianship and other matters,” Mauck said. “Many elderly facing incapacitation hearings don’t know they have the right to an attorney or to have an independent medical examination. Many are not aware that if they are legally determined ‘incapacitated’ they will lose their right to enter into contracts and to manage their own finances.”

For her part in aiding the Elder Law Task Force, Mauck is consulting with the Pennsylvania Institute on Protective Services to gain information regarding starting the task force, and she is  reaching out to various local agencies and organizations to facilitate roundtable discussions.

“Stormie has been an enormous help in coordinating the pre-planning and logistics to convene the Elder Law Task Force,” Butts said. “She is very bright and has an incredible work ethic. I hope that she can see this project through with me until she heads off to law school.”

Mauck’s work with Project Bald Eagle is a continuation of her volunteer work with the former Lycoming County Heroin Task Force and mostly includes writing press releases and assisting with social media sites as part of that task force’s attempt to educate the public on resources available for individuals and families affected by the growing epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse.

“Heroin is a devastating problem in our community, and everyone should get behind the efforts to educate our youth and the public,” Mauck said.

Butts added: “Beginning with the Heroin Task Force, and now with Project Bald Eagle, education of the public is our No. 1 priority. Having Stormie’s social media savvy has really increased our public profile!”

Project Bald Eagle is a nonprofit, community-based, public health initiative supported by Penn College, Lycoming College, Susquehanna Health System and Lycoming County.

Mauck earned an associate of applied science degree in legal assistant/paralegal in May 2014 and plans to attain her bachelor’s degree in May 2016. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA and was named to Lambda Epsilon Chi, the national honor society founded by the American Association for Paralegal Education.

She was hired as a full-time paralegal at Lepley, Engleman & Yaw following an internship there in spring 2014. Mauck also works as a legal and writing tutor in Penn College's writing center.

Next, she is applying to law school.

In addition to all that she juggles professionally, Mauck is the single parent of a 5-year-old daughter, Emma.

She says she initially decided to only enroll in the associate-degree program because “I figured two years wouldn’t be a giant impact on my daughter’s life.”

Mauck added: “When I got into the program, I realized I found my calling. I actually like doing my homework. And, my internship was so rewarding because I was putting all of my knowledge into play.”

The 2009 Central Mountain High School graduate says she’s received a great deal of support and encouragement from her parents — Brian and Sharla Mauck — and her professors.

“I’m in the first generation of my family to go to college,” she said. “My dad is always inspiring me to reach my potential. His unwavering support and belief in me has really motivated me.”

She has also received a great deal of support from her legal assistant/paralegal professors at Penn College.

“My professors are all approachable and extremely knowledgeable,” Mauck said. “They sincerely want to see you succeed. They also understand you have a life outside of school.”

One who stands out in her mind is Kevin R. Derr, professor of legal assistant.

“I was much less outgoing when I started college. Kevin got me into tutoring and helped me get my internship,” Mauck said. “From my first semester, he insisted that I get my bachelor’s degree and further my education. He constantly told me, ‘It would be a waste of your talent to not pursue some type of grad program.’ I would not have continued on if it wasn’t for his persistent encouragement. The faculty in the paralegal program encourage you to do everything you can to further yourself.”

Progressing in her professional, as well as personal, life is something this Penn College student takes seriously.

“I want to be an inspiration to my daughter. I want her to see that if you work really hard, nothing is unobtainable. I hope my daughter looks up to me and never lets anything stand in the way of her aspirations,” Mauck said.

For more on legal assistant/paralegal studies at Penn College, visit

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, visit, email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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Penn College paralegal student lends expertise to task forces