Britney Spears has scored another win in her ongoing conservatorship saga.
judge has ruled that the pop star doesn't have to sit for deposition as
part of a legal battle with her father over her conservatorship, which
ended last year, CNN reports.
Earlier this month, the judge ruled that Spears' father, Jamie
Spears, does have to provide deposition and answer questions about the
controversial legal arrangement that lasted 13 years. He served as his
daughter's co-conservator until being suspended in September 2021
following public scrutiny and after the pop star alleged the situation
was abusive. The conservatorship ended two months later, but Spears has said she still wants "justice," and she and her father are battling over outstanding matters like attorney fees and allegations of misconduct.
Spears' legal team pushed for Britney Spears to also provide
deposition, a move that has now been rejected by Judge Brenda Penny, who
said it wouldn't yield relevant information, Variety reports.
Britney Spears' lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, argued such a deposition
would "retraumatize" the singer. "Whether he accepts it or not, his
daughter feels traumatized by what she went through at his hands for
more than a decade," Rosengart said. Jamie Spears' attorney, Alex Weingarten, argued he "did right by his daughter" and defended the conservatorship as being "for her benefit."
The judge previously ruled that
Jamie Spears must also turn over relevant documents, including those
pertaining to electronic surveillance, which comes after claims that he spied on Britney during the conservatorship. He has denied doing so. Rosengart told CNN he hopes Jamie will "accept his losses and simply move on and leave his daughter alone."
A couple of months ago, a friend contacted me for a scientific
consultation. Her father was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and
she wanted my opinion on available therapies and ongoing clinical
trials. As I tried to answer her questions to the best of my knowledge, I
noticed something else on her mind that she was keeping quiet about.
When I asked her about it, she sheepishly replied: “I don’t want to
sound selfish, but seeing my dad like this makes me wonder whether I
will get this horrible disease too one day. Is there anything I can do
to prevent it?” I told her that her question was not selfish at all. I
had also wondered the same thing over the last year as I had observed my
grandmother with dementia.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of incurable neurological
disorders, including Alzheimer’s, characterized by cognitive impairment,
such as memory loss and judgment. More than 55 million people worldwide are currently living with dementia. Scientists project this number to triple
by 2050, which means that we will all know someone with this condition
and will inevitably ask the same question as my friend: What can I
change in my life today to reduce my risk for dementia?
Unfortunately, some risk factors are not changeable. These include age (more than 22% of people over 85 in the U.S. are living with dementia), genes (40-65% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's have the APOE4 gene), and family medical history. However, recent scientific studies
show that we can protect our brain from dementia by eliminating or
modifying other risk factors, which account for more than 40% of cases,
with our lifestyle choices. Moreover, researchers show that these
modifications do not have to be significant, life-altering events. Even
small changes starting at any stage of life can be effective. It is
never too early or too late for dementia prevention, but consistency is
Here are the 10 steps we can take at any age to reduce our risk for dementia.
1. Keep active and exercise regularly. Of all the
lifestyle changes studied, regular physical activity seems to be the
best one to prevent dementia. Cardiovascular risk factors, such as
obesity, insulin resistance (i.e., diabetes), hypertension, and high LDL
cholesterol, are all linked to increased risk for dementia. Meta-analyses
of multi-year longitudinal studies have shown that exercise not only
improves cardiovascular health but also significantly improves memory
and reduces the risk for dementia.
2. Follow a heart-healthy diet. Specific
heart-healthy diets characterized by a high intake of vegetables,
legumes, fruits, nuts, cereals, and olive oil and low intake of
saturated fats and meats, such as the Mediterranean and MIND diets, have been shown to protect against cognitive decline. Moreover, a study
that analyzed the diets of more than 5,000 elderly people in the U.S.
found that the individuals who followed these diets showed more than a
30% lower risk of cognitive impairment.
3. Quit smoking. We all know that smoking is bad for us and causes premature death. Additionally, scientists have found
that smokers are at higher risk for dementia than non-smokers. The good
news is that stopping smoking even late in life can reduce this risk.
4. Limit alcohol consumption. High alcohol use is associated
with brain changes, cognitive impairment, and dementia. The effects of
moderate drinking, on the other hand, have been less clear. The general recommendation by experts is to reduce alcohol consumption as much as possible, especially in mid-life, to minimize the risk of developing age-related conditions, such as frailty and dementia.
5. Engage in cognitive activities. Scientists have found less education
to be the earliest risk factor for dementia, affecting an individual's
cognitive reserve later in life. Similarly, in mid-to-late life,
engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as learning a new
language or playing a musical instrument, was associated with improved
memory, reduced cognitive decline, and a lower risk for dementia.
6. Manage depression and anxiety. Depression is common among those with dementia. While some studies suggest that it is one of the early symptoms of dementia in older adults, several meta-analyses have found that depression precedes dementia and increases its risk two-fold. Similar analyses
have found that anxiety also increases the risk of dementia by 57%
among the elderly. Treating these conditions can help prevent the onset
7. Be socially involved. Scientists consider social contact, measured by the amount of one's social activity and the extent of their social network, a protective factor against dementia. A meta-analysis of 51 long-term studies looking at the cognition and social isolation
of more than 10,000 participants aged 50 or older has found that
increased social contact led to a better late-life cognitive function.
Being an active community member and maintaining close relationships
benefit mental, physical, and brain health.
8. Prevent head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries, usually caused by traffic accidents, military exposure, recreational sports, and falls, are associated with an increased risk of dementia. In a study
of early-onset Alzheimer’s patients, a stronger risk was found closer
to the time of an injury, resulting in the earlier disease onset. Also,
the worse the head injury was, the higher the risk of the disease.
Taking safety precautions to protect your head, such as wearing a helmet
and preventing falls, can significantly lower this risk.
9. Get sleep. Studies show that sleep disturbances, broadly defined as poor sleep quality, inadequate duration, insomnia,
and obstructive sleep apnea, are associated with an increased risk of
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Getting 7-8 hours of deep and
restorative sleep can be protective against these disorders.
10. Treat hearing loss. While hearing impairment is common in the aging population, studies
suggest that diminished hearing is a significant risk factor for
dementia, even at very low levels, possibly due to reduced cognitive
stimulation. Fortunately, an emerging body of research shows that treating the loss with hearing aids is protective against cognitive decline.
ROSS COUNTY, Ohio — A Ross County woman accused of
covering up the death of an elderly woman in order to steal her social
security pled guilty this week in a Ross County court.
38-year-old Anna Mead, according to court records obtained by the
Guardian, pled guilty to abuse of a corpse, attempted aggravated arson,
attempted tampering with evidence, failure to report knowledge of a
dead, and theft.
Mead was involved in a conspiracy to steal the social security of
86-year-old Norma Grubb following her death in October of 2021.
Mead kept the deceased woman’s body covered in a bedroom while continuing to collect checks in her name.
Detectives say, Mead continued the plot from October to December of 2021.
Investigators said during that time, the home belonging to Grubb was set on fire to cover up her death.
Anna Mead will spend the next 6 years behind bars.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Lucille Brooks was stunned when she picked up the
phone before Christmas two years ago and learned a nursing home was
"I thought this was crazy," recalled Brooks, 74, a
retiree who lives with her husband in a modest home in the Rochester
suburbs. Brooks' brother had been a resident of the nursing home. But
she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for
him. She wondered how she could be on the hook for his nearly $8,000
Brooks would learn she wasn't alone. Pursuing unpaid
bills, nursing homes across this industrial city have been routinely
suing not only residents but their friends and family, a KHN review of
court records reveals. The practice has ensnared scores of children,
grandchildren, neighbors, and others, many with nearly no financial ties
to residents or legal responsibility for their debts.
The lawsuits illuminate a dark corner of America's larger medical debt
crisis, which a KHN-NPR investigation found has touched more than half
of all U.S. adults in the past five years.
Litigation is a
frequent byproduct. About 1 in 7 adults who have had health care debt
say they've been threatened with a lawsuit or arrest, according to a
nationwide KFF poll conducted for this project. Five percent say they've
The nursing home industry has quietly developed what
consumer attorneys and patient advocates say is a pernicious strategy
of pursuing family and friends of patients despite federal law that was
enacted to protect them from debt collection. "The level of aggression
that nursing homes are using to collect unpaid debt is severely
increasing," said Lisa Neeley, a Massachusetts elder law attorney.
In Monroe County, where Rochester is located, 24 federally licensed
nursing homes filed 238 debt collection cases from 2018 to 2021 seeking
almost $7.6 million, KHN found. Several nursing homes did not file any
lawsuits in that period.
Nearly two-thirds of the cases targeted
a friend or relative. Many were accused — often without documentation —
of hiding residents' assets, essentially stealing. The remaining cases
targeted residents themselves or their spouses.
Nursing homes have gone after some families for tens of thousands of dollars. In a few cases, debts surpassed $100,000.
In Monroe County alone, one nursing home sued the daughter and
granddaughter of a former resident. The daughter pleaded with the court
to release the granddaughter, promising she would pay the $5,942 debt.
Another home sued a woman twice, for her husband's and her mother's
debts. Yet another claimed a woman owed $82,000 for her mother's care.
The resident was, in fact, a cousin, according to court papers.
"I get calls all the time from people who are served with these
lawsuits who had no idea that this was even a remote possibility, who
call me crying and frantic," said Anna Anderson, an attorney at the
nonprofit Legal Assistance of Western New York who has represented
defendants in such suits, including Brooks. "They believe not only that
they're going to lose their own income and their own houses and assets,
but also they're concerned that their loved ones who are still in the
nursing home may be potentially kicked out."
The legal strategy
is often rooted in admissions agreements, the piles of paperwork that
family or friends sometimes sign, not realizing the financial risks.
"The world of nursing facilities is a black hole for most people," said
Eric Carlson, a longtime consumer attorney at the nonprofit Justice in
Aging. "This happens in the shadows."
In most cases reviewed by KHN, the people sued didn't have an attorney,
which can be expensive. In nearly a third, the nursing homes won
default judgments because the defendants never responded, a common
phenomenon in debt cases. In many cases, lawsuits sought interest rates
as high as 18% on top of the debt.
Long-term care officials and
attorneys say they must use the courts when bills go unpaid. "It would
be a disservice to the hospital's residents, and to Monroe County's
taxpayers, to allow residents who have assets not to pay what is owed,"
said Gary Walker, a spokesperson for Monroe County, which operates
Rochester's largest nursing home, Monroe Community Hospital.
From 2018 to 2021, the county filed 60 debt collection cases, including the lawsuit against Brooks, KHN found.
Nationally, Beth Martino, a spokesperson for the American Health Care
Association, the largest nursing home industry group, said lawsuits
against families are "not a common occurrence."
attorneys in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York,
and Ohio said they regularly see lawsuits against family and friends.
In 2020, Washington, D.C., secured an agreement with two nursing homes
to stop what authorities called "deceptive billing practices." The homes
had sued at least 15 family members, the attorney general found.
Ahmad Keshavarz, an attorney who documented debt lawsuits around New
York City, said nursing homes see adult children as more appealing
targets than older residents. "Sons or daughters are more likely to have
assets," he said. "They have wages that can be garnished."
Ohio, Robyn King, a former teaching assistant from Cleveland, was sued
for more than $70,000 by a nursing home where her mother had been a
resident. "The lawsuit made no sense to me since I told them I would not
be personally responsible for my mom's medical expenses," King told a
U.S. Senate committee in March. "The stress was unbearable. I thought,
'I will not be able to afford my mortgage.'"
Trapped by Paperwork
In upstate New York, Brooks faced a smaller yet shocking bill: $7,967.05.
"People like us live on a fixed income," Brooks said. "We don't have
money to throw around, especially when you don't see it coming." She was
so worried she didn't tell her husband at first.
initially thought there had been a mistake. She and her brother, James
Lawson, were part of a big family that moved north from Mississippi to
escape segregation in the 1960s. Lawson, who was a gifted athlete
despite losing an arm as a child, spent his career at the Rochester
Parks and Recreation Department. Brooks worked in insurance. They lived
on opposite sides of the city. "My husband is somewhat disabled, and
that keeps me pretty busy," said Brooks, who is also active in her
church. "My brother always took care of his own business."
In summer 2019, Lawson was hospitalized after experiencing
complications from a diabetes medication. The hospital released him to
the county-run nursing home, and Brooks only found out a few days later.
She visited her brother several times. No one talked to her about
billing, she said. And she was never asked to sign anything.
After two months, Brooks' brother went home. A year later came the lawsuit.
The county alleged that Brooks should have used her brother's assets to
pay his bills and that she was therefore personally responsible for his
debt. Attached to the suit was an admissions agreement with what looked
like Brooks' signature.
Such agreements, which can run multiple
pages, have long been standard in the long-term care industry. They
often designate whoever signs as a "responsible party" who will help the
nursing home collect payments or enroll the resident in Medicaid, the
government safety-net program.
Many lawyers say making a family
member financially liable is unfair. "If you bring your child to a
doctor, you should pay for the child's medical care. But if your adult
child brings you to a nursing home and you're 80, the law doesn't bind
you to pay those bills," said Paul Aloi, a Rochester attorney who has
represented all sides — patients, hospitals, and nursing homes — in debt
Federal laws and regulations prohibit homes
from requiring a resident's relatives or friends to financially
guarantee the resident's bills. Facilities cannot even request such
But consumer advocates say nursing homes slip the
admissions agreements into papers that family members sign when an older
parent or sick friend is admitted. Sometimes people are told they must
sign, a violation of federal law. Sometimes there is barely any
discussion. "They are given a stack of forms and told, 'Sign here, sign
there. Click here, click there,'" said Miriam Sheline, managing attorney
at Pro Seniors, a nonprofit law firm in Cincinnati.
Ferris helped admit his mother to Kirkhaven nursing home in Rochester in
2019, he said, he asked the staff whether any papers he had signed made
him financially liable for her care. "They said 'no,'" he said.
Ferris, who was estranged from his mother, had no legal control over
her finances. She had been managing her own affairs. Nevertheless, the
nursing home sued Ferris two years later for nearly $11,000. "It's not
right," said Ferris, who is no longer speaking with his mother.
In more than a third of the cases that nursing homes filed in Monroe
County against friends and relatives, the people sued had no power of
attorney, limiting their access to residents' money to pay bills.
Accused of Stealing
Court records show Rochester-area nursing homes also frequently accuse
family and friends of hiding residents' money and property to avoid
paying the debts. The allegation is known in debt law as "fraudulent
conveyance." But it is commonly interpreted by those being sued as an
accusation of theft, which can be very frightening, consumer attorneys
The practice can intimidate people with means into paying
debts they may not even owe, said Anderson, the legal assistance
attorney. "People see that on a lawsuit and they think they're being
accused of stealing," she said. "It's chilling."
sometimes prey on older relatives, taking their bank cards or selling
their property, advocates for seniors say. But nursing home lawsuits in
Rochester contain almost no documentation to support these claims.
Monroe County provided supporting records in only three of the 29
lawsuits it filed that included a fraudulent conveyance claim against a
friend or relative of a resident. And Underberg & Kessler, a
Rochester law firm that has represented the county and other nursing
homes, attached documentation in only five of the 70 actions it filed
with such claims. The firm has filed the most nursing home debt cases in
Anna Lynch, a partner, said the firm always has
"factual and legal grounds" to file. "The fact that the complaint does
not make reference to the specific evidence does not mean there is not
evidence," she said. "When we do institute legal action on behalf of a
nursing home, the firm reviews the agreements between the parties and
the facts to make sure there are grounds for claims against the persons
who are legally responsible for payment."
Barbara Robinson, an
81-year-old widow who lives alone outside Rochester, said that wasn't
her experience. She was sued by Monroe County three years ago for
Robinson, who lives on a fixed income, signed papers
for an older friend who was admitted to the county home, and she said
she helped staff gather information to enroll her friend in Medicaid.
"As far as I knew, that was that," Robinson recalled. After the friend
died, however, the county accused Robinson of taking her friend's
assets. The county provided no documentation.
there was no money to take, noting that her friend "had spent every
single dime." A court ultimately dismissed the case, first reported by
WHEC-TV in Rochester. Judge Debra Martin admonished the county for the
lack of evidence. "Plaintiff must allege some facts to support its
claims," she wrote, noting that the county's case "does not meet the
bare minimum requirements."
Ferris, who was sued over his
estranged mother's debts, had his case dropped by the nursing home.
Valerie King Hoak, a spokesperson for the Kirkhaven nursing home, said
the facility "cannot discuss private resident information or potential
litigation with third parties."
Brooks is now in the clear, too,
after the county dropped its case against her. She said she thinks the
signature on the admissions agreement was forged from the nursing home's
visitor log, the only thing she signed.
The experience left her
shaken. She now tells anyone with a friend or relative in a nursing
home not to sign anything. "It's ridiculous," she said. "But why would
you ever think they would be coming after you?"
Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism
about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is
one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.
- Leaders of the State Bar of California said Monday that they have
implemented changes to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel, which
investigates and prosecutes attorney disciplinary matters, with more
reforms on the way.
efforts include increasing staff, including the addition of a full-time
administrator and a forensic auditor, and increasing pay for outside
lawyers hired to investigate attorney complaints.
office is also rolling out new ways to proactively identify potential
lawyer misconduct instead of relying solely on complaints, officials
added at a press conference highlighting the changes.
bar will seek to identify attorney misconduct risk factors, then
provide support for lawyers before they get into trouble, said state bar
executive director Leah Wilson.
move into proactive regulation is new for the bar,” she said. But she
and other bar leaders acknowledged that it will take more than minor
changes to rebuild public trust in their organization.
state is responsible for regulating lawyer conduct. California has the
second-largest population of lawyers behind New York, and its
disciplinary system has been beset by years of critical audits and
high-profile scandals, in particular surrounding the downfall of
prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer Tom Girardi.
Girardi, who is accused
by a rival law firm of using settlement funds meant for the families of
victims of the 2018 Lion Air crash to fund a lavish lifestyle, was the
subject of numerous complaints over the past four decades, but the bar
allowed him to keep his license. The bar ordered an outside investigation of its handling of complaints against Girardi, who was disbarred in June.
audits have for years raised red flags about delays in attorney
misconduct investigations, case backlogs and low rates of discipline.
The latest audit
found that the bar too often resolves allegations of lawyer misconduct
behind closed doors and does not consistently address conflicts of
interest with lawyers who come under investigation.
leaders said Monday that they are implementing the audit’s
recommendations for improvements. They also said they are looking to
address racial disparities in attorney discipline, as well as the
perception that the bar is reluctant to pursue disciplinary charges
against lawyers at large firms.
we have done much, let me be clear. We have more work to do” to reform
the disciplinary system, Ruben Duran, chair of the bar's board of
trustees, said Monday.
(July 2022 – Summit County) The Summit County Probate Court and the
AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer Program of Vantage Aging are teaming up to
recruit and train Senior Visitors. Due to Covid restrictions, seniors
have become more isolated than ever. Meanwhile, the number of volunteers
has dwindled and help is needed by those with a heart for seniors in
nursing homes in Summit County. Join Probate Court and Vantage Aging on
Tuesday, August 23, 2022, from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Vantage Aging located
in the AES Building in Akron,
388 S. Main Street, Suite 325. Information and training will be
provided with light refreshments and free and easy parking. To sign up
for Senior Visitor training go to https://bit.ly/SeniorVisitorTraining. Just a few hours a year makes a huge difference to a senior who may have no other visitors.
Senior Visitor Program volunteers must be at least 21 years of age,
hold a current Ohio state driver’s license, have transportation, and
successfully complete an application and background check.
Over 2,600 adults are under guardianship in Summit County alone.
These wards need visitors to be the extra eyes and ears to ensure their
needs are being met throughout the year. Judge Stormer created the
Senior Visitor Program to monitor the care and circumstances of seniors
under guardianship (wards), who reside in a long-term care facility.
Senior Visitor Program volunteers offer support to the guardian in place
and help ensure that the needs of vulnerable seniors are being met.
The AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer Program of VANTAGE Aging connects
volunteers ages 55 and older with opportunities to serve their
community. As the largest volunteer network for older adults in the
nation, AmeriCorps Seniors matches volunteers with organizations where
their time, interest, talents, knowledge, and experience are most
effectively utilized to meet important needs in our community. The
AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer Program understands the growing need to
address senior isolation in our community and its volunteer members are
committed to helping other seniors feel heard and valued. VANTAGE’s
AmeriCorps Seniors program is available in Summit, Medina, Geauga,
Wayne, Delaware, Franklin, and Hamilton Counties. To sign up as a
Senior Visitor Program Volunteer directly through https://bit.ly/RSVPVantage.
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has
established a new system that makes it easier for nursing home employees
to report suspected financial exploitation of the elderly.
The new portal is the latest in a series of initiatives conducted under the Elder Abuse Task Force, Nessel’s office explains.
Staff members in nursing homes who suspect an individual may be
spending an elderly resident’s money on something unrelated to that
person’s care or desires are encouraged to file a complaint online.
a facility knows a resident has a stream of income, but their patient
account is in the red, it may be a warning sign that someone is
siphoning away the patient’s assets,” says Nessel. “That concern can be
reported via this portal directly to our team to evaluate for
investigation. We look forward to working collaboratively with the
long-term care community to root out and prosecute any suspected abuse.”
All other individuals who suspect abuse in nursing homes are asked to call 1-800-24-ABUSE.
Elderly woman Henriette Schmuhl was scammed out of $230,000 when a caller accused her of crimes she did not commit. CBS News
A 74-year-old Chicago area woman was scammed out of $230,000 this
year after a mysterious caller accused her of criminal activity,
according to a local report.
Henriette Schmuhl said she was “so afraid” when she received the
phone call in May from a man claiming to be from the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, she told WBBM-TV.
Schmuhl said the man, who identified himself as “Andrew Hall” and
even gave her a badge and warrant case number, told her that she was
accused of drug trafficking and money laundering – crimes she never
He told her that if she went to the police she’d be arrested, the report said.
The fake federal official said Schmuhl was also a victim of identity
theft and needed a new social security number. But before changing her
number, he demanded Schmuhl make large withdrawals of cash from her
savings account to “protect” herself, the 74-year-old said.
Schmuhl said she kept the phone call a secret from her family and used
different Bitcoin machines to convert her life savings into digital
currency to try to clear her name.
A caller posing as a Homeland Security agent accused Henriette Schmuhl of drug trafficking. CBS News
The caller told Henriette Schmuhl if she went to the police she would be arrested. CBS News
“Andrew Hall” then persuaded Schmuhl to max out her credit cards,
buying gift cards worth $17,000, when she ran out of cash to convert to
Bitcoin, she told the station.
Schmuhl said she believed the man was her friend and trying to help her – until one day he stopped answering her calls.
Investigators with the FBI were called onto the case and traced the phone call to Malta, the report said.
Schmuhl said that she hopes her story will serve as a warning to
others who are threatened over the phone with being arrested or losing
their Social Security number.
Multiple Judges' Secret Talks Have Deprived Libra Max of Her Ability to Fairly Advocate for Her Father's Freedom, Lawsuit Claims
NEW YORK, July 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Libra Max, daughter of the 84-year-old ailing pop artist and beloved New Yorker, Peter Max, filed an unprecedented lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Deborah Kaplan, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts, who oversees the New York
guardianship court. Libra Max has sued for violations of her
constitutional right to a fair trial under the Due Process Clause of the
United States Constitution.
Libra Max, alongside many of Peter's family and loved ones, has been
fighting for three years to free her father from his forced isolation
under the control of a financially-motivated court-appointed guardian,
who is a stranger to the Max family.
"Our lawsuit lays out that four of the five judges involved in Peter Max's
case have engaged in unlawful secret communications—which has prevented
Libra from fairly advocating for her father's freedom," said Libra's
attorney Andrew Celli, partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP.
The evidence in this case shows that at least one of the judges
pre-determined the outcome of the case in a three-hour secret
conversation—behind closed doors—before the case was heard in court, the
As stated in the complaint, available here: "As guardianship judges have stated that such ex parte
communications are standard operating procedure in that court, they
represent a corruption of the entire process, as guardians who are
focused on maintaining their lucrative positions and the favor of the
court are permitted to submit secret evidence behind closed doors and
unfairly bias the judge against an adversary—in this case, the ward's
"This case is so critical because the constitutional right at stake
is so basic: to hear and respond to all of the evidence that your
adversary presents to the court," said Celli. "This is the bedrock of
our justice system and it ensures fairness. This emblematic case is the
first of its kind but it won't be the last. The shroud of secrecy over
the guardianship system must be lifted."
As parents age, their children may notice certain physical and
behavioral changes. The most common physical decline is a parent falling
more often, typically while walking up and down stairs or in the
bathroom. Physical impairments can be rectified with canes and walkers,
safety measures around the house and possibly medical alert buttons.
However, a parent’s mental decline can be much harder to manage and to
prepare for. Common examples of cognitive decline include forgetting
basic information such as relatives’ names, leaving the stove on, or
when a parent starts wandering off alone and getting lost. So, when
cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s) becomes evident, how does one
protect both their parent and that parent’s estate?
Protection of the Person
Visit the Doctor
If you suspect your parent may have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive
impairment, the first step is to bring them to a doctor. Your parent’s
primary care physician will likely be able to advise you on general
safety precautions and be able to rule out any major health issues.
However, the primary care physician will not be able to adequately
evaluate your parent’s cognition and should refer your parent to a
specialist. A referral to a neurologist or another doctor specializing
in neurology will be able to fully assess your parent’s capacity. One
possible outcome is that the doctor could determine that your parent can
still make thoughtful decisions related to their day-to-day life, such
as their activities and travel, yet be slowing in their ability to
direct and manage their own health decisions. This evaluation will give
you a glimpse into your parent’s needs and will help you navigate their
Health Care Proxy
After the proper medical professional evaluates your parent, it may
be determined that a health care proxy needs to be invoked. Hopefully,
your parent previously established a comprehensive estate plan and
appointed an available individual, such as you or another family member,
to act. A health care proxy is an agent named in estate planning
documents to make medical and health care decisions for the principal
(your parent). A health care proxy typically does not begin to make
medical decisions until the principal is deemed incapacitated but may be
necessary when a parent can no longer make his or her own health care
If your parent named you their health care agent, it’s critical to
read the fine print. The document may have language included regarding
when to invoke the health care proxy – for example, your parent may
require a determination of incapacity by two separate doctors. The
health care proxy will likely include end-of-life planning and will help
guide you when those decisions need to be made. Most importantly, a
health care proxy typically appoints a guardian if the principal is
deemed incapacitated or in need of a guardian. This paperwork will be
vital if you need to pursue guardianship.
If a neurological evaluation determines that your parent has
Alzheimer’s or another form of cognitive impairment, your parent does
not automatically need a guardian. A guardianship is likely unnecessary
if your parent is well enough to manage their day-to-day activity, is
not causing harm to themselves, and has a valid health care proxy that
may be used for medical decisions. However, in those situations where a
parent is causing injuries to themself, is putting others in danger, or
if there is no health care proxy, guardianship will help you protect
yourself and your parent.
A guardian is a fiduciary responsible for making and overseeing
personal decisions on behalf of an individual who is unable to manage
their own affairs or make their own decisions due to incapacitation or
being underage. A guardian’s powers include making decisions related to
such a person’s support, care, education, health and welfare. It may be
determined that your parent only needs a limited guardian and not a
“full” or “plenary” guardian. A “full” guardianship generally removes
all personal decision-making responsibility and authority from the
incapacitated person. A limited guardianship allows the Court to address
specific areas of incapacity and tailor the guardianship to meet an
individual’s unique circumstances. Your parent may need a guardian
solely to make his or her medical decisions but is able to live
independently and manage their personal schedule. A guardianship is a
court proceeding and will require you to file certain documents and
adhere to certain fiduciary obligations. Read: I’ve Been Asked To Be a Guardian. What Do I Do?
The scope of powers granted in the health care proxy (if one exists),
will determine how you can provide care for your parent. A health care
proxy may allow for admission into a nursing home and may allow you to
oversee medical care both in and outside of your parent’s home. The
powers granted under guardianship are strictly statutory but generally
allow for all decisions regarding support, care and welfare. Under
guardianship, you cannot admit your parent to a nursing home or
administer anti-psychotic medications without additional court
oversight. You may use your power as a health care proxy or authority as
guardian to make decisions related to your parent’s day-to-day care and
protection, such as hiring home aides, establishing regular doctor’s
appointments and managing medications.
Protection of the Estate
Joint Account Holder
If your parent has Alzheimer’s, you should also consider taking steps
toward protecting their estate. As a result of their diagnosis, they
may require assistance with bill paying or other financial management
needs. One solution is for your parent to add you as a joint account
holder to one of their bank accounts. Note: a common cause for
litigation is when one sibling learns the other sibling was added to a
parent’s bank account. Upon a parent’s death, the default rule is for
that joint bank account to automatically pass to the joint owner. This
could result in a possible disproportionate inheritance for one sibling
and may go against your parent’s wishes. When a parent adds one child to
a bank account, ensure the parent’s intentions are clear and in
writing. If the parent wishes for that child to receive the value of the
account at the parent’s death, the gift should be made in writing. If
the parent wishes for that child to only be added to the account “for
convenience purposes only,” such as for bill paying, make that purpose
known in writing. A “convenience account” will not pass automatically to
the joint owner.
Durable Power of Attorney
If proper estate planning was done, your parent presumably also
executed a durable power of attorney document. A power of attorney is a
written document that appoints an “attorney-in-fact” for a definite
purpose, typically related to financial affairs. The individual for whom
the attorney-in-fact is acting is the “principal” or, in this case,
your parent. Similar to the health care proxy, if you are appointed as
power of attorney, it is important to read the document and understand
your powers. Examples of powers you may have: power to fund or amend a
revocable trust; power to buy and sell real estate; power to invest or
reinvest the principal’s money; power to contract; power to operate
businesses owned by the principal; powers regarding retirement plans or
other employee benefits; powers regarding bank accounts; and many more.
You may use your authority as power of attorney to manage your parent’s
finances, pay outstanding expenses, and preserve and protect assets. Read: Power of Attorney for my Incapacitated Parent – What Are Our Options?
In the event your parent does not have an estate plan and needs
assistance with their finances, a conservatorship may be necessary.
Similar to filing for guardianship, you, as the petitioner, may also
commence conservatorship proceedings to take control of your parent’s
finances if they can no longer do so. A conservator deals with
protecting the property and business affairs of a person needing
protection, while the guardian manages the respondent’s physical
well-being. A conservator is appointed to manage the property of a minor
or an adult who, because of disability, cannot manage their own
property, or has property that will be wasted or dissipated unless
management is provided.
Conservatorship is likely unnecessary if your parent has a valid
durable power of attorney in place. To grant a conservatorship, the
court would need to find that, due to your parent’s “disability,” they
can no longer manage finances and assets are at risk of being wasted or
dissipated. If your parent previously arranged for the protection of
their assets, such as creating trusts, appointing agents, and putting in
writing their wishes, a conservatorship is likely not needed.
In the end, prior planning is the best way to protect your parent and
their assets in the event of a devastating diagnosis. With proper
instruments in place and adequate instructions provided to agents, your
parent should be able to rest assured that they will be cared for both
financially and personally.
June Malicote was born on July 13, 1922, while her husband, Hubert Malicote, was born 10 days later, on July 23, 1922.
Family, friends, neighbors
and church members joined the couple on Friday, July 15, at the Eaton
Road Church of God in Hamilton, Ohio, where a joint birthday party was
held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Roughly 130 guests stopped by to celebrate with husband and wife.
just kind of live by the day and all of a sudden we're 100 years old,"
Hubert Malicote told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.
The longtime couple first met at the Eaton Road Church of God in 1941, which was under a different name at the time.
June and Hubert Malicote celebrated their 100th birthday with a
joint birthday party on Friday, July 15, hosted at the Eaton Road Church
of God in Hamilton, Ohio.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
It was in September of that year that they attended a church revival with their respective friend groups.
Hubert had been sitting in the pew behind June — and at one point she looked back at him and smiled. He was smitten.
the service, down the street … was an ice cream parlor, so all of us
young people went to the parlor, got ice cream and talked and had a nice
little afternoon together," Hubert recalled. "There were no automobiles
or anything. So, she went her way, and I went mine. I kind of thought
about how I would make contact. And I decided that church was the best
"I was just barely 19 and kind of a country boy. And I thought, 'She's looking pretty dressed in red.'"
"So come Sunday, I went to church, and she was there," he continued. "We sat together and talked and had a good relationship."
They repeated the routine for a few weeks — and their first official
date was at a local county fair. Hubert said he remembers sharing his
first kiss with June after the fair at June’s home.
really know what to do," he said. "I was just barely 19 and kind of a
country boy. And I thought, 'She's looking pretty dressed in red.'"
He added, "I reached over and hugged her a little bit and gave her a kiss."
June and Hubert Malicote began dating at age 19. Their love story began in the 1940s in Hamilton, Ohio.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
He was so nervous about their kiss that he immediately ran out the door.
Naturally, he worried about whether June was mad about his impromptu flee. His mind rattled with thoughts throughout the week.
Their friendship and romance continued to blossom for a year.
June and Hubert Malicote have three children, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
In November 1942, Hubert enlisted in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II.
did his training at the Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois and later
went to Newport, Rhode Island, for five months of torpedo school.
June stuck by his side and supported the war effort by building war goods at a machinery company in Ohio.
"Time was going fast. We needed to make a decision about what to do," Hubert said. "We decided it was time to get married."
Hubert and June Malicote got married in 1943 before he was deployed by the U.S. Navy.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
little time to waste, the couple made an overnight trip to Indiana to
get a pre-marital blood test, which was a marriage license requirement
at the time.
They immediately traveled back to Hamilton,
so they could get married at the church where their relationship first
began. June borrowed a dress from a cousin and fashioned a bouquet of
roses out the church’s climbing rose porch.
Their pastor pronounced them husband and wife on June 8, 1943.
Hubert Malicote served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He enlisted in 1942 and returned home in 1945.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
after their intimate wedding, Hubert had to board a cross-country train
for his deployment. He went from San Francisco to Honolulu.
were not allowed any telephones or telegraphs — any kinds of
communication that would identify where we were," Hubert told Fox News
Digital. "One evening walking through the commissary, and there on the
wall was a grass skirt."
"It's been a very, very happy marriage."
— Hubert Malicote
"That kind of hit me with the idea," he said.
I could ship that back to [June], that just might give her some
indication where I was. So, I packaged it up and shipped it to her and
about two or three weeks [later], I got back a beautiful lady in a grass
skirt. Well, that message went through, and we got the answer."
June Malicote donned the grass skirt Hubert Malicote sent her
while he was stationed in Hawaii during World War II. This is the photo
she sent him back.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
After Hubert concluded his service in 1945, he boarded a train home from San Diego.
sent a telegram to my wife [about] when I would be home," Hubert said.
"As we pulled into the station in Anderson, Indiana, there was nobody on
the platform. But walking along beside the train longer track was that
beautiful little girl again, dressed real nice and beautiful. And the
conductor said, ‘She's waiting for you.’ That was a good arrival."
The pair reunited, built their home on a five-acre ranch and raised three children, Jo, Sam and Theresa, who are all adults now.
they're married and raising their families," Hubert said, noting that
he and June have seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
"It's been a very, very happy marriage," he added.
June agreed that her marriage to Hubert has been great and they’re highly compatible.
June and Hubert Malicote are still in love after 79 years of
marriage. "I’ve always said that a happy home is where God is," said
(Photo courtesy Melanie Malicote Photography)
She spoke intermittently due to a speech limitation due to a stroke she had two years ago.
"[It’s been] so easy to get along together," June said. "We have not even had a quarrel."
daughter, Jo Malicote, confirmed to Fox News Digital that she can’t
recall a single time her parents have uttered a harsh word toward each
"We maybe have had disagreements. But we've always worked them out,"
Hubert said. "Our attitude has been that you don't hurt the one you
love. And if you have an issue or quarrel, take care of it, don't let it
grow, think it over, talk it out and solve the problem and go on with
June, on the other hand, said keeping the peace was an easy thing to do since her husband is handsome.
Hubert and June Malicote say they've never had a single quarrel during their 79-year marriage.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
The Malicotes are fixtures at their church and have each served in various teaching positions.
wife, with her music background, has been a choir director making
cantatas for Christmastime, and she's done a real good job with it,"
"I’ve always said that a happy home is where God is," he continued. "It’s just been a good life. Good teamwork. A good home."
So far, the couple doesn’t have a special birthday wish. They did blow out 100 birthday candles on their cake with help from their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Hubert and June Malicote are parents of three: Jo (top left), Sam (top right) and Theresa (first row, middle).
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
said he’s not sure why he and his wife have been fortunate enough to
share their 100th birthday together — but their daughter Jo said it’s
likely in their genetics.
"Dad's mother was 104. Dad’s great-grandfather lived [for] 100 years,
from 1822 to 1922," Jo told Fox News Digital. "So, they inherited good
Both June and Hubert’s families hail from Kentucky; their parents passed on their agricultural know-how.
"We maybe have had disagreements. But we've always worked them out. Our attitude has been that you don't hurt the one you love."
— Hubert Malicote
"We raised chickens. Dad had his own beef cattle and we had our own meat, whether that was pork or beef or chicken," Jo said.
had several big gardens, and so we had green beans, corn, beets,
lettuce — any vegetable that you could think of. If it grew in Ohio, we
had it. And Mom canned it or froze it or dried it. So, we ate healthy
before it became a thing."
June and Hubert Malicote celebrated their 100th birthdays at home with a pink sheet cake.
(Photo courtesy the Malicote family)
continued, "Now there's all the health magazines telling you to grow
your own food. That’s how they grew up. Back in their day, if you didn't
make your own food, you were going to starve to death."
"So, they learned how to do that as children. And that's how they raised us."
Jo Malicote added that she thinks the key to her parents’ longevity is that they’ve always kept busy.
never sat down and gotten lazy," Jo concluded. "We own the five acres
and there's always fences to mend and there is always work to do."
Since being placed under a conservatorship, Bynes has stayed mostly out of the public eye. She enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in 2014
following her release from the hospital and subsequent conservatorship.
She graduated in 2019 while on a day pass from her inpatient treatment
facility at the time. Bynes has reportedly continued to do well since
graduating and opened up about her past substance abuse in an interview
Bynes' parents are reported to be in agreement that her conservatorship should end,
though a judge had ordered the arrangement to be extended until 2023.
If that sounds familiar, it's because we've all learned a lot more about
celebrity conservatorships after the much popularized end to Britney
Spears' conservatorship last year. The length of these conservatorships
raises some questions, including at what point do we question the law on
how these conservatorships are carried out, and to what length of time.
both these cases, the legal reach of the conservatorship has been
extensive. They lasted years and left the women with little say in
controlling their lives. While it seems that Amanda’s parents truly had
her best interests at heart and are now fully on board to have her
conservatorship terminated, it begs the question as to where the line is
drawn when it comes to mental health conservatorships and how extensive
or limited they should be. It is not unheard of for someone to be
placed under a guardianship for life, especially if the person is
intellectually or developmentally delayed and they cannot make
appropriate decisions for themselves without extensive help. But in
cases where mental health is concerned, it feels different.
In most cases, full autonomy is ideal for people who suffer with mental health conditions, even severe ones like schizophrenia,
bipolar disorder or other disorders that can include psychosis. Having a
severe mental health condition does not make someone permanently
incapable of caring for themselves or others, particularly if they're
able to commit to a regimen of doctor recommended medication and
Conservatorship is something that is typically used as a last resort
for people experiencing severe mental illness. It is oftentimes
short-lived until the person is stabilized and set up with some sort of
intensive mental health therapy, but it can be difficult to be released
from a conservatorship if the person doesn’t have a strong network of
support. When conservatorships stretch out to decades, it makes you
wonder whether the support being received is adequate, whether the
mental health system is failing that person in some way, whether there
needs to be a holistic re-evaluation of the law surrounding
conservatorships. It also shines a light on the importance of commitment
to ongoing treatment and the associated results.
feeling well enough to advocate for the termination of her
conservatorship is something to celebrate. Mental illness does not have
to hold the level of stigma that it does, and people who are
experiencing conditions severe enough to result in hospitalization or
guardianship still deserve autonomy over their lives and people rooting
for their success.