Saturday, January 14, 2023

HBO Max to Release Documentary About Britney Spears’ Conflict With Her Father

By Morning Express 

Britney Spears -Photo: MATT WINKELMEYER/Getty Images

Britney Spears is one of the show business characters that is frequently talked about, not only because of the scandals in which she has been involved, but also because of the consequences of her past, especially because of concerning the long guardianship of his father.

This topic is addressed in depth in the HBO Max documentary ‘Jamie vs. Britney’. Fans of the ‘Princess of Pop’, as well as viewers, will be able to see how Jamie Spears, the singer’s father, took control of her career, as well as passages of the movement that defended the interpreter are seen.

This broadcast, without a doubt, is one of the most relevant proposals in this nascent 2023 on television, since it delves into the conflict between father and daughter regardless of the legal implications that surrounded the case. The documentary is part of the premieres of Family Trials, exclusive content on HBO Max.

‘Jamie vs. Britney’ premieres on January 10 with a two-episode format. These deliveries explain how the conflict occurred, which began in 2007 when Britney shaved her head. This act generated a host of speculation about the mental health of the singer.

The production also addresses the moment in which the interpreter of ‘Crazy’ was hospitalized and taken to a rehabilitation clinic, this led to the controversy over who should take the reins of Britney’s life and her musical career. , it was there that his father took control of everything.

Therefore, Jamie, under the jurisdiction of a Los Angeles court, acquired guardianship of his daughter’s career, thereby, took control of their businesses, their assets. After 13 long years, the guardianship agreement was renegotiated, in part, due to pressure from fans of the singer through the ‘Free Britney’ movement.

In the two installments of the documentary, viewers will see the vision of the two parties to the conflict, with the intention that viewers know the why and how of the two protagonists. What is documented in the production is supported by the testimonies of Britney and Jamie, who will tell how they lived this stage.

Full Article & Source:
HBO Max to Release Documentary About Britney Spears’ Conflict With Her Father

Missing Woman With Dementia Is Found Safe Thanks To Her Loyal Dog

By Ashley McCann

A Texas woman who was missing for days in George Bush Park is now safe thanks to her loyal dog, Max.

63-year-old Sherry Noppe, of Katy, was recently diagnosed with dementia, and although she normally knows her way around the trails, she ended up getting lost while on a walk with Max.

Photo: YouTube/KHOU 11

Deputies and Texas EquuSearch, along with Noppe’s family and friends, had been searching the 2,700-acre park on ATVs as well as on foot for days on end, to no avail.

Friends of Noppe’s children formed a group to search for their friend’s mom. Finally, they caught a break when they heard Max barking.

Photo: YouTube/KHOU 11

As soon as they heard the bark, they knew that it was her, since there was most likely no other dogs out there at that time.

Thankfully, Noppe and Max were both OK. Although she wasn’t disoriented, she was very lost and unsure of what to do.

If it weren’t for Max alerting rescuers, they may have never found her.

Photo: YouTube/KHOU 11

“With Max, that dog had no leash, no collar, and stayed by her side for three days,” Noppe’s son, Justin told KHOU 11. “And that just shows you the loyalty the dog has.”

Max was their brother’s dog, who passed away two years ago.

“He’s the last thing that we really have of him,” Justin said. “To get them both back is a silver lining.”

Photo: YouTube/KHOU 11

Max went to the veterinarian to be evaluated and received a much-needed bath.

Noppe was brought to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she was a little shaken up with some cuts and bruises, but is expected to make a speedy recovery.

Hear the story in the video below:

Full Article & Source:
Missing Woman With Dementia Is Found Safe Thanks To Her Loyal Dog

Florida man used 87-year-old woman 'as a mop' to clean up dog urine, arrest report says

by WEAR Staff

Leonard Ervin Wayne Tucker was charged with elder abuse, Jan. 5, 2023. (Escambia County Jail)

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) — An ex-felon who was also a family friend is accused of dragging an 87-year-old woman across the floor and using her "as a mop" to clean up dog urine, according to his arrest report.

Leonard Ervin Wayne Tucker, 56, was arrested in Florida last Thursday, Jan. 5, and charged with elderly abuse.

According to the arrest report, the incident was captured on video.

It took place on Nov. 20, 2022.

The report said Tucker had been living with the woman as her paid caregiver since 2018. It adds, he had been a family friend since the 1990s.

Tucker previously spent 11 years in state prison from 2005 to 2016 on a homicide-manslaughter charge in Santa Rosa County, in the Panhandle. The charge reportedly stemmed from a house fire in Navarre in 2004 that left another man dead.

According to this arrest report, Tucker returned home from the grocery store and became angry with the woman. First, the video showed him slap her in the face.

The report went on to state the video showed the woman cleaning the floor with paper towels before Tucker grabbed her arm, pulled her to the floor, and spun her body around.

The report read, he "held her by her ankles while he pushed her body back and forth over the spot on the floor. Tucker then drag her by her ankles around the living room before releasing her and walking back into the kitchen.

The woman's shirt was wet following the incident, according to the report.

The report states family immediately removed her from the home. Video from 10 days later showed bruising on the woman's arms and buttocks.

The report also said family members told deputies they didn't know about any previous incidents between Tucker and the woman.

Jail records show Tucker was released from the Escambia County Jail on Monday on an unspecified bond.

He's scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 27.

Full Article & Source:
Florida man used 87-year-old woman 'as a mop' to clean up dog urine, arrest report says

Friday, January 13, 2023

Lawyer charged with 'staggering' theft from trust of late Carhartt leader

 by Christina Hall

Lawyer arraigned on embezzlement charges from trust of late Carhartt heiress.

Less than two weeks after the death of beloved metro Detroit businesswoman and philanthropist Gretchen Carhartt Valade, a Grosse Pointe Farms lawyer who oversaw her trust is facing numerous charges that he stole millions of dollars from it.

David Sutherland, 57, is charged with two counts each of embezzlement of $100,000, one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult of $100,000 or more and one count of conducting criminal enterprises. While specific amounts were not provided in the criminal complaint, earlier civil filings cited millions of dollars missing, and the judge Wednesday called the figures "staggering."

He was arraigned Wednesday in Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court, with Valade's son — the current chairman and CEO of Carhartt, the well-known company Valade's grandfather founded — sitting just feet away.

Attorney James Joseph Sullivan, left, speaks with his client David Sutherland.

Embezzlement occurred during 2019 and 2020, according to the criminal enterprise count. The criminal complaint also lists dates from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2022.

It states that Sutherland, “using the resources of his law practice, exploited his position of authority to embezzle from a client’s irrevocable trust, serving simultaneously as lender, borrower, attorney and trustee over the money he took from his client’s account.”

David Sutherland, an attorney who has been charged with embezzling.
Lawyer must surrender passport, wear tether

Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court Judge Charles Berschback, in setting a $250,000 cash or surety bond, said “the amount that is being alleged is staggering.”

The Michigan Attorney General's Office alleges that Sutherland used his position as the personal attorney and trustee to embezzle millions of dollars from Valade's irrevocable trust by issuing himself a series of loans without her permission.

“Mr. Sutherland abused his authority as an attorney and trusted adviser to steal millions from a longtime client and must be held accountable,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a release. “Our elderly populations are particularly susceptible to financial exploitations, and my Financial Crimes Division is prepared to hold these bad actors accountable for such egregious and illegal violations of their client’s trust.”

Berschback ordered Sutherland to wear a GPS tether and turn in his passport. He said “additional safeguards” are needed because of the seriousness of the charges.

Sutherland’s next court date is Jan. 25.

His attorney, James Joseph Sullivan, who entered a not guilty plea for his client, told Berschback that he didn’t know if Sutherland could pay the bond, adding “that’s a lot of money … I don’t know if he can really post that, judge.”

Municipal Judge Charles Berschback, left, listens as attorney James Joseph Sullivan, right, defends his client David Sutherland.
'A small fraction of the whole story'

He said Sutherland is a resident of the area, has no criminal history and would be present. Sullivan requested a personal bond and no tether.

Sullivan said "this is not something new" even though it "may be new to the media." He said "some of this is somewhat grandstanding."

He said this is "a small fraction of the whole story. I think once the whole story is told, when people hear it, it's going to be a much different climate and attitude toward this, and for him, my client, than there is right now."

Carhartt CEO, Valade's son attends arraignment

Assistant Attorney General Dan Gunderson said he was unable to comment after the arraignment, for which Sutherland appeared in court and was escorted from the courtroom afterward by law enforcement.

Each count is a 20-year felony offense.

Valade died Dec. 30 at the age of 97 at her Grosse Pointe Farms home. The metro Detroit businesswoman and arts patron was the granddaughter of Carhartt Inc. founder Hamilton Carhartt. She served as chairman emeritus for the workwear company, which is still family-owned.

Mark Valade listening during an arraignment hearing for David Sutherland

Her son, Mark, who is chairman and CEO of the company, attended Sutherland's arraignment.

“The Valade family appreciates the diligent efforts of the Attorney General’s Office in investigating David Sutherland’s conduct and the filing of these criminal charges,” Valade family spokesman Ron Fournier said in a statement.

“They are confident in the legal process and optimistic that justice will prevail and that no other members of our community will become victims of Mr. Sutherland.”

Gretchen Valade
Known locally as the "Angel of Jazz," Gretchen Valade established a foundation that has enabled the Detroit Jazz Festival to tout itself as the largest free jazz festival in the world. At age 74, she founded the Mack Avenue Records jazz label, which subsequently earned 11 Grammy Awards and more than 50 nominations. At age 82, she opened the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, an award-winning jazz and dinner club in Grosse Pointe Farms.

In late 2022, Wayne State University’s iconic Hilberry Theatre building was shut down to be transformed into the Gretchen C. Valade Jazz Center, a world-class performance hall. Valade made gifts to jazz studies and performance at Wayne State totaling $9.5 million.

Allegations in prior court records, too

In 2021, a complaint was filed against Sutherland; his law offices; Tuscola Energy Inc.; BP Pizzas LLC; DTS Pizza Napoli LLC, 601 Piquette Holdings LLC, and Palms Land Co. LLC in Oakland County Circuit Court by the Gretchen C. Valade Irrevocable Living Trust, which was created in 2009. It stated Sutherland was a member, partner or chairman in relation to the other listed defendants.

According to that complaint, Sutherland spent years as the trusted adviser and trustee for the trust, and after establishing himself in this position he “embarked on a campaign of diverting Trust assets to his own use, treating the Trust as his own personal piggy bank.”

That complaint alleged Sutherland lent himself more than $7.7 million and he lent a business of which he was 50% owner more than $7.6 million. It also stated that he repeatedly wrote checks to his own businesses from trust accounts even though the trust had no involvement with those businesses.

“Compounding those actions, Sutherland caused the Trust to borrow money at market interest rates in order to lend it to him and his affiliates at below-market interest rates," according to that complaint, which states Sutherland served as trustee until being removed in August 2020. "Now, Sutherland is unable or unwilling to repay the moneys he has borrowed, and the Trust has been otherwise damaged by his behavior."

The venue of that case was changed to Wayne County, where it is currently being handled in probate court.

Full Article & Source:
Lawyer charged with 'staggering' theft from trust of late Carhartt leader

Pflugerville woman wanted for exploitation of elderly, theft

by Tara Brolley

The Pflugerville Police Department is looking for 47-year-old Cynthia Marie Solis, who is wanted for Exploitation of Elderly and Theft from Elderly Individual. Both are felony offenses.

She is described as a Hispanic woman with brown hair and brown eyes. She is 5’3” and 145 pounds.

Anyone with information on Solis’ whereabouts is asked to contact the police department online or by calling the tip line at (512) 990-6700.

Full Article & Source:
Pflugerville woman wanted for exploitation of elderly, theft

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Iowa man charged with severely beating 78-year-old dad

An Iowa man is facing several charges, including attempted murder, after police say he severely beat his 78-year-old father.

Marshalltown police say 47-year-old Scott David Swartz, of Marshalltown, assaulted his dad on Saturday.

The father was transported to a hospital for emergency care. Police have not updated his condition.

Swartz is charged with attempt to commit murder, domestic abuse assault – second offense, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of methamphetamine – first offense.

Swartz was booked into the Marshall County Jail.

The investigation is ongoing.

Full Article & Source:
Iowa man charged with severely beating 78-year-old dad


Woman pleads guilty to financial exploitation of vulnerable adult in Douglas County

The case was set to go to trial this week, before the petition was filed.

By Travis Gulbrandson

ALEXANDRIA — A New Munich woman has filed a petition to enter a plea of guilty to the charge of felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

The petition was filed in the case of Lori Karin Thomas, 51, on Jan. 5 in Douglas County District Court.

According to the statement of probable cause, Thomas allegedly withdrew more than $118,000 from the bank account of a senior citizen from February 2019 to August 2020.

The case was set to go to trial this week, before the petition was filed.

The petition reads that Thomas will pay $9,000 in restitution up front, followed by payments that will add up to what appears to be more than $30,000.

Thomas must also remain law abiding, pay a $50 fine, serve 10 days house arrest and serve 5 years probation, the petition reads.

Thomas's charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine.

Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30.

Full Article & Source:
Woman pleads guilty to financial exploitation of vulnerable adult in Douglas County

Louisiana Applebee Employees Feed and Comfort Elderly Woman Who'd Been Reported Missing

By Inside Edition Staff

Maria Montalvo, 86, had been reported missing when she walked into a local Applebee’s asking for water and tacos. The staff did not know she'd been reported missing and let her stay as long as she liked.

An elderly woman who'd been reported missing in Louisiana was comforted by Applebee’s employees after she ended up in their restaurant.

Maria Montalvo, 86, was reported missing on Jan. 4 after she was last seen walking away from her home around 5 p.m. said police. They issued a Silver Alert, asking the community for help finding the woman, who has a medical condition that could impair her judgment, authorities said.

Two hours later, Montalvo walked into a local Applebee’s, speaking little English and asking for water and tacos. The staff took care of her, KSLA reported.

According to the station, the staff had no idea she had been reported missing and they let her stay as long as she wanted, keeping her warm and comfortable.

“We let her sit, and all night it was just a group effort of making sure she was comfortable. I think at one point we started to bother her, but we just let her relax, and at a certain point, I told myself I was going to call someone to figure out what was going on,” the Applebee’s manager, Courtenay Lane, told KSLA.

Police and a search team showed up around 10:30 pm, right before Lane was about to call the police.

“Our hats off to Courtenay Lane and our wonderful Bossier City Applebee's night crew for giving aid when needed!  So thankful for the opportunity to provide care, safety and kindness to this elderly guest who needed help. We are proud to be a part of the Bossier City Neighborhood,” the restaurant said said in a Facebook post

Full Article & Source:
Louisiana Applebee Employees Feed and Comfort Elderly Woman Who'd Been Reported Missing

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

New Rulings from Michigan Court of Appeals Regarding Protection of Persons Subject to Guardianship

Written by:  Warner Norcross + Judd

In December 2022, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued two important opinions regarding guardianships in Michigan.

The first case, In re Guardianship of Roberta More Asplund, had to do with guardianship of an incapacitated adult. Docket No. 361556, 2022 WL 17724333 (Mich Ct App Dec 15, 2022) (unpublished). There, the probate court appointed a guardian for 91-year-old Roberta due to her cognitive impairment. Roberta’s son Randall filed “numerous petitions and other filings challenging the administration of Roberta’s guardianship[.]” Id. at *1. Randall “harassed Roberta’s caregivers, challenged every action taken by Roberta’s fiduciaries, and enlisted Roberta as an ally in his disputes with [his siblings], Roberta’s caregivers, and her fiduciaries.” Id. Randall “manipulated Roberta and prevented her from adjusting to her life changes.” Id. Eventually, the probate court appointed a limited-guardian solely for the purpose of supervising Randall’s visits with Roberta and ensuring that he did not raise prohibited topics with her. The limited-guardian eventually asked to resign because she could not prevent Randall from discussing prohibited topics with Roberta. Roberta’s foster care home also gave notice that Roberta would have to leave if Randall continued to visit her because of his arguments with staff and his filing of regulatory complaints against the facility.

Eventually, the probate court entered a personal protection order, prohibiting Randall from having any further contact with Roberta. Randall appealed, arguing that the probate court did not have the authority to prevent him from seeing his mother. The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed. “The probate court ... entered the personal protection order as equitable relief stemming from its inherent authority under MCL 700.1302(c),” which is the statute granting the probate exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over guardianship proceedings. Id. at *2. “Accordingly, the probate court had the authority to enter injunctive relief ... to protect Roberta’s welfare and resolve the dispute over visitation.” Id.

This ruling is significant because it recognizes the probate court’s inherent authority to grant injunctive relief in matters within its jurisdiction, without relying on any express statutory authority to issue an injunction (such as MCL 700.1309). This decision will come in handy when an interested person seeks to enjoin a problematic family member from conduct that jeopardizes the ward’s wellbeing and best interests.

The second case, In re Guardianships of ER and GR, Minors, had to do with guardianship of minor children. Docket Nos. 362398 & 362399, 2022 WL 17726409 (Mich Ct App Dec 15, 2022) (unpublished). PT was appointed as guardian of his minor second cousins, ER and GR. The probate court ordered a review of the guardianships. The Department of Health and Human Services prepared a guardianship review report, identifying several concerns with the guardianships. The concerns included: PT had been found guilty of child neglect of her own children, including while the guardianships were in place; ER and GR, as well as PT’s own children, all had poor hygiene and truancy issues; GR needed but was not receiving mental-health treatment; there had been substance abuse and domestic violence issues in the home; and PT’s housing was unsafe. Id at *1. The probate court held a hearing and ordered that PT’s guardianship over ER and GR was terminated. PT appealed.

PT claimed that the probate court could not terminate the guardianship without first implementing a corrective plan. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected that claim. However, the Court of Appeals did find a technical defect in the probate court’s ruling. While the probate court had generally considered the “best interests of the child” factors listed in MCL 700.5101(a), the probate court had not explicitly stated its findings and conclusions as to each factor on the record. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the probate order, ordering the probate judge to re-run the hearing, consider each best interests factor, and explicitly state its findings and conclusions as to each factor on the record. In this regard, minor guardianship proceedings are identical to child custody proceedings. This ruling is significant because it provides clarity regarding the legal procedure that must be followed in order to remove a minor child from a problematic guardianship.

Full Article & Source:
New Rulings from Michigan Court of Appeals Regarding Protection of Persons Subject to Guardianship

Who Can Override a Power of Attorney

By Maria Rivera 

Power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person to designate another person to act on their behalf. This document typically specifies the decisions the designated person (the agent) may make on behalf of the principal, as well as when and how the agent can take action.

It is important to understand who can and cannot, override a power of attorney document. This article will provide an overview of the power of attorney process, as well as who can override it.

Definition of Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal instrument that gives one or more persons the authority to act as another person’s agent or attorney-in-fact. A POA will most commonly authorize another person to manage finances, property, and legal matters if the grantor—the person creating the POA—is unavailable, incapacitated or incapable of making decisions.

These documents are highly customizable, so it’s important to understand their provisions and choose an agent who you trust.

The individual signing (or executing) a POA must be of sound mind with at least some capacity to understand what they are signing and the implications it may have. Depending on the jurisdiction, two witnesses may be required when signing a Power of Attorney document in some cases.

It’s also important for all parties involved to understand that legally valid Powers of Attorney terminate after death unless noted as “durable” in the document itself —this means that once an individual is deceased, any agents appointed by the grantor no longer have any power over said grantor’s affairs.

Types of Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is an official document that gives another person or entity the legal authority to make important decisions on someone else’s behalf. A power of attorney can be used for various purposes, including managing financial assets or medical care.

The key things to consider when determining who gets the authority are (1) the power of attorney and (2) who has exclusive control over the decision-making process.

The type of POA determines who has the authority to exercise it and how they are able to use it. Generally, there are two types of powers of attorney: general and special.

General Power of Attorney: This is an unrestricted type that allows the agent to be given the power to make any decision regarding a specified matter. They have near-total control over decisions involving finances, business transactions, legal matters, and other activities. A general POA can be revoked by either party at any time if desired.

Special Power Of Attorney: This type allows for a more restricted range of decision-making responsibility and may include specific financial activities such as banking, real estate transactions, and investments. Unlike a general POA, a special one cannot be revoked by either party without prior written consent from both parties involved in the arrangement.

As with all legal documents, it’s essential to carefully read all instructions before signing a POA on behalf of yourself or another person.

It should also be noted that no one — not even family members — has the inherent right to override a power of attorney unless they are named in the document itself or unless they become legally appointed guardianship or conservatorship after their loved one becomes incapacitated due to illness or accident

Who Can Override a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that assigns a person or other entity with the right to act on behalf of someone else in a legal capacity. It is a document that is often used to assign fiduciary responsibility to another person in the event of death or disability.

Knowing who can override a power of attorney is an important factor to consider when setting up this document. Let’s take a look at the details.

Court or Other Legal Authority

A court or other legal authority can override a Power of Attorney (POA). This typically happens when the court or other legal authority rules that the principal is unable to make decisions for himself/herself and thus needs a guardian appointed. In these cases, the POA will be superseded by an authority higher than itself, such as a court order.

The court or other legal authority may also override a POA if there are suspicions of fraud, abuse, or mismanagement of funds by the agent designated in the document. This is not common but it can happen if there is compelling evidence of wrongdoing.

Additionally, some states allow doctors to override a POA in certain circumstances. If a doctor believes that following instructions given via POA would be medically contrary to their professional judgment, they can override it and act on what they believe to be in the patient’s best interest.

As with any legal situation involving a POA document, it is important to consider local laws and regulations prior to assuming any action or entering into any contracts based on a POA.

Agent or Attorney-in-Fact

An agent or attorney-in-fact is a person who is authorized to act on behalf of another. An agent is typically appointed in a Power of Attorney (POA) document which grants the agent legal authority to make decisions while the principal (the person granting the power) is alive and unable or unwilling to do so.

Depending on how the POA document is worded, an agent may be given very broad powers to make financial, legal, health care, and other decisions on behalf of the principal.

However, even with a POA document in place, there are certain individuals and entities that can override an Agent’s authority at any time during or after the principal’s life. Those individuals and entities can include:

-A court-appointed guardian or conservator who has authority over all decision-making rights given to an Agent;
-The principal’s spouse if they are married;
-Anyone named in prior estate planning documents such as wills or trusts;
-The government if it demands compliance with certain laws; and
-Financial institutions, banks, etc., which require the authorization of an accountholder for certain types of financial transactions.

Attorney General

The power of attorney (POA) is a legal document allowing a person, known as the ‘principal’, to appoint another person or an organization – known as the ‘attorney-in-fact’ – to act on their behalf in business and personal matters. The appointed attorney-in-fact will have limited authority to make decisions for the principal in accordance with their instructions.

A POA can be revoked at any time by the principal or it may automatically terminate when certain events take place for example when the principal dies or loses their mental capacity to understand the agreement.

Under certain circumstances, a power of attorney can be overridden; this is normally done to protect vulnerable individuals who are unable to make sound decisions themselves. In these instances, a judge may relinquish the POA and name someone else who can look after that individual’s affairs. This decision falls to either local authorities or an attorney general.

How to Override a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal instrument that allows one person (the principal) to appoint another person (the attorney-in-fact or agent) to act on the principal’s behalf. This document outlines the limits of the power the attorney-in-fact has over the principal’s affairs and can be revoked or overridden in certain cases. In this article, we will discuss how to override a power of attorney.

Petition the Court

In some cases, the court may be able to override a power of attorney. This is usually done through a legal petition or motion, usually filed by family members or other interested parties. The person filing the petition must be able to demonstrate that the power of attorney was used inappropriately and that they have a legal interest in overruling it.

In most cases, courts do not take action on these motions without clear and convincing evidence that the power of attorney was not used in accordance with the grantor’s wishes or if it is no longer an appropriate representation of those wishes.

Evidence could include statements from witnesses that contradict statements made by those using the power of attorney, changes in circumstance since it was authorized, conflicts between beneficiaries, or any other circumstances that show undo influence because of this document.

When a motion is filed successfully and approved by the court, all involved parties must be notified and allowed to contest. If no objections are raised within a set amount of time determined by your local court (usually 30 days), then the modifications will go into effect immediately upon notification back to all involved parties.

Revoke the Power of Attorney

The principal (the person who is granting the power of attorney) is able to revoke a power of attorney at any time, without any notice to the agent (the person receiving the power); this is accomplished by filling out and signing a revocation form.

After doing so, the principal must also give a copy of it to all persons or agencies that need or may need that information. It is important to note that just because the principal revokes the POA, it does not necessarily mean that what has been done under its authority during its existence becomes invalid.

Additionally, despite being granted authority over making certain decisions for another person under a power of attorney, this authority can be overridden by other relevant individuals with higher legal standing such as trustees, guardians, and conservators.

These individuals will generally have comprehensive knowledge of the law and will recognize when a power of attorney has exceeded its legal boundaries. They may be able to reject any action taken under it as invalid and void.

Additionally, if either the principal or agent fails to comply with laws relevant to establishing valid instructions and directions in executing a POA agreement, courts may step in and override any orders resulting from the misuse of said agreement.

File a Complaint with the Attorney General

One of the ways to contest a legal power of attorney document is to file a complaint with the Attorney General in the state where the power of attorney was signed. The Attorney General may investigate whether there was improper or illegal activity in the creation of the document, such as fraud, coercion, or manipulation.

The Attorney General may be able to help you undo or override the power of attorney if they determine that it should not have been granted.

The complaint process can be complex and requires detailed evidence from multiple sources. In order for your complaint to be taken seriously by the Attorney General, you need to provide sufficient evidence that a crime was committed during or around the time when a Durable Power of Attorney was created and/or signed.

Examples of crimes that could occur include: taking money without permission, signing documents without authorization, forging signatures, and providing false information on legal documents.

You should keep all evidence related to your case such as photos, statements from witnesses who witnessed any malicious acts or threats by those setting up a Durable Power of Attorney document, financial records showing improper use of funds, etc.

Additionally, consider gathering all other relevant documents such as healthcare wills, guardianship forms, and estate planning paperwork so you can paint an accurate picture when making your complaint.

Once you have collected all your documents, contact an elder law attorney (or another type of lawyer depending on your situation) who can help guide you through filing a complaint against those creating and signing a power of attorney document deemed invalid by law.

Potential Consequences of Overriding a Power of Attorney

Overriding a Power of Attorney (POA) is a serious decision that must be legally upheld. If a decision to override the POA is made, there can be significant consequences and legal ramifications. It is essential to understand the potential consequences of overriding a POA before making a decision.

Financial Implications

Financial consequences of overriding a power of attorney can range from the mildly inconvenient to the devastatingly expensive. Depending on whether you are overruling a durable or nondurable power of attorney and who initially granted the document, your decision may result in substantial costs.

Under certain circumstances, an individual may be subject to civil (money) damages if they deliberately act outside of the authority granted under a durable power of attorney. This includes any resulting loss or damage to financial interests or assets found in the original agreement.

If oversight by a court is required, related fees may be assessed and are usually shared by both parties involved in the legal action/challenge.

Further financial implications can include lost opportunities that were previously available due to a change in control for joint accounts, investments, real estate transactions, and more.

Certain life insurance policies may require updates and sanctions that incur additional expenses for canceled contracts or refilling paperwork for another agent on behalf of the initial grantor. When in doubt, seek legal advice from an experienced practitioner before challenging or overriding a durable or nondurable power of attorney agreement.

Legal Implications

Anyone who attempts to override a power of attorney without proper legal authority can face serious legal repercussions. Depending on the nature of the power of attorney document, there may be federal and/or state laws in place which regulate and protect legally appointed representatives.

Attempts to override a power of attorney without just cause can constitute civil and/or criminal proceedings, resulting in legal penalties such as fines and/or imprisonment.

Moreover, any person or entity that attempts to override a power of attorney could also be liable for any financial losses incurred by the legally appointed representative as a result of this action. For example, if an unauthorized person were to prevent an agent from accessing money or property belonging to the principal, they could potentially be held responsible for any damages incurred.

Additionally, overriding a power of attorney without proper authorization can constitute fraud or theft and thus detrimental outcomes in form of civil litigation could follow from it. Therefore, it is vital for all persons involved to adhere strictly to all applicable laws when initiating or attempting any action that would affect powers granted by a validly executed power of attorney document.

Potential Liability

When it comes to overriding a power of attorney, there are potential legal liabilities associated with taking certain actions. Depending on the circumstances, there may be lawsuits and other forms of disputes that arise when the power of attorney is overridden.

The person who overrides a power of attorney may face criminal liability for his or her actions depending on the jurisdiction and type of offense. Civil liability may also be imposed in some cases where the act was egregious enough to cause monetary damages to the parties involved.

In addition to these concerns, there may be issues related to neglecting the wishes of an incapacitated person as expressed through an authorized power of attorney document.

While this violation constitutes a breach of trust, it is usually handled at a more informal level through mediation. In cases like these, no specific law generally applies and parties must settle any disputes privately.

(The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.)

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Who Can Override a Power of Attorney

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Unguarded: Michigan’s guardianship system leaves vulnerable exposed


George Pappas poses for a portrait with his Toyota Prius outside his apartment in Harbor Springs on Thursday. Elise Page was appointed as Pappas’s conservator in 2019. Page was convicted of embezzlement in 2021 for stealing thousands of dollars from Pappas.

A conservator who took a 95-year-old man’s debit card on a shopping spree at Victoria’s Secret.

Another who hasn’t accounted for $17,000 from the sale of a 74-year-old man’s land, and a third on trial, accused of embezzling funds from 11 vulnerable individuals.

Record-Eagle reporters in August 2021 began examining records in 10 of Michigan’s probate courts. They found a steady stream of worrisome stories ranging from family isolation to outright theft.

The stories involve people of means and those on fixed incomes, people who live independently and those who require residential care, those with close family members and those without, but all have one thing in common: They begin with a judicial decision meant to protect them by appointing a guardian or conservator.

Anecdotally, thousands of guardians and conservators — acting as fiduciaries — serve in their roles without running afoul of the law. Still, they are barely monitored by the courts that hand them the keys to a person’s estate. The State of Michigan has no rules governing who can serve as an appointed guardian so long as the person is older than 18. Often, vulnerable adults have little control over some of the most important decisions in their life — like where they live, who they can see, and how their savings are spent.

Decades of reform attempts by governors, attorneys general and legislators failed to alter the Michigan judiciary, which controls guardianship, keeping a casual eye on a system that lets bad actors harm the vulnerable.

During a nine-month investigation, Record-Eagle reporters found the following:

  • Probate courts aren’t built to audit and monitor what guardians do with their wards.
  • Protocol changes by the state judiciary, made in the name of reform, weakened state oversight.
  • Three employees in the Attorney General’s office are tasked with keeping a watchful eye on more than 1,600 vulnerable individuals who have no family members interested in their well-being.
  • Reform efforts have come and gone with little to show, the result of repeated efforts by judges and professional guardians to resist oversight changes. Those efforts are being revived today.
  • “Good” guardians are sorely needed, but the job often pays pennies and encourages professional guardians to oversee as many wards as possible.

George Pappas holds a photo of himself and his late wife, Geneva, at his apartment in Harbor Springs.

Robbed of money and dignity

In early December 2020, George Pappas had to pay his utility bill.

At 95, it was a point of pride for Pappas that he could drive, even though he’d recently had a conservator appointed to manage his money. After Pappas’ wife, Geneva, died in 2019, Pappas said he tried to keep up with daily chores, but eventually told a social worker at a local Veterans Administration office he needed help.

Pappas asked if someone could schedule his dental appointments, arrange to have the brakes on his car fixed and help arrange a pre-paid burial.

Records show the social worker told him he needed a conservator and referred Pappas to Emmet County Probate Court. Judge Valerie Snyder appointed a Harbor Springs woman named Elise Page.

Probate courts in Michigan are run by elected probate judges, and with no backgrounding rules from the state, the judges have latitude on how to find and vet the guardians and conservators they appoint.

In Page’s case, court staff asked the sheriff’s department to run a background check before adding her to a list of those willing to serve. That check found no criminal convictions; yet records kept across the hall in district court show a number of debt collection cases, all since closed, filed against her. Unpaid loans, a bounced check to a Petoskey florist, and debt for medical services.

Soon after her appointment, Page closed Pappas’ bank account, moved his money to a credit union and applied for a debit card in her own name. Ten days later, Page went on a shopping spree at vape shops, fast food drive-thrus and Victoria’s Secret.

She was eventually caught, but not by the court. Pappas paid his utility bill with a check from his old bank account and when it bounced, he told a clerk at city hall. The clerk called the police.

By then, Page had transferred $63,665 from Pappas’ old bank account — his entire balance — into the new credit union account, police records show. During the next few weeks, Page withdrew $10,300 in cash and spent another $3,615 with the debit card.

Dressed in a robin’s egg blue suit, Pappas testified righteously at the sentencing hearing after Page was convicted of fraud in the case.

“My wife worked 30 years to earn money and this person took advantage of that, blood money, for her prosperity and her hunger,” said Pappas.

Pappas’s story speaks to the casual accountability mechanisms in place for guardians and conservators. Conservators have about two months to tell a court how much money they’re responsible for. After that, they file annual reports with line items detailing expenses. Courts don’t require receipts and these financial reports are often as brief as, “Rent: $7,000,” “Car: $4,000.”

If anything looks fishy, casting the net to catch the fish isn’t the court’s job. Michigan probate courts are only responsible for monitoring whether guardians and conservators file financial and other documents on time and that these documents are sent to “interested parties.”

It’s those interested parties — a spouse, a daughter or son, siblings or staff with a government benefit agency like Social Security — and not the court who bear responsibility for ferreting out wrongdoing.

“The court is not an investigative body, it’s a paperwork body,” said private practice attorney Patrick Cherry, of Cadillac, a special assistant attorney general in dozens of guardianship and conservatorship cases, under contract with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.

Interested parties are not generally attorneys or accountants. Often they are family members who may have little experience with probate court matters and may not know they have the right to object to discrepancies.

“In my experience objections to accountings are fairly rare,” Cherry said.

In Pappas’ case, bank records show Page spent Pappas’ money weeks before the first accounting was due to the court.

‘Easy opportunity for exploitation’

Expenses made by conservator Elise Page on the account of
George Pappas, a 95-year-old WWII veteran who was appointed
a conservator in Emmet County. Page was convicted of
embezzlement in 2021.
In Grand Traverse County, former Probate Judge Melanie Stanton balked at the idea that courts should monitor the fiduciaries they assign. Stanton, who retired in 2021, said probate staff don’t have time, nor do they have access to LEIN — the statewide police backgrounding database. Probate courts also don’t have the flexibility to pick and choose who they put in charge, because there’s a lack of available guardians.

“A court doesn’t do an investigation,” Stanton said. “That’s not my role.”

In 2020, Stanton was tasked with sorting out the guardianship and conservatorship of Martha Rothaug, a Leelanau County woman with a significant estate and feuding adult children. Judges often appoint outside guardians in cases where siblings appear to be vying for a parent’s money. In Rothaug’s case, a woman named Jill Case was appointed in 2017 by Leelanau County Probate Judge Larry Nelson.

Case moved Martha out of her home and into a nursing home and transferred more than $500,000 in savings from her local account at Merrill Lynch. The action prompted a colleague of Jon Shubert, Martha’s financial planner, to file a suspicious activity report naming Case.

Unbeknownst to either court, Case had a years-long disciplinary record at her job at the Grand Traverse County’s Commission on Aging. Managers reprimanded her for bullying colleagues to tears, records in her personnel file show. Separately, Case’s paycheck had also been garnished in civil court — a legal recourse used to recoup money when a person has an unpaid debt.

Judge Nelson declined comment on Martha Rothaug’s guardianship. Jill Case also declined, saying, “the news has not done me justice in the past involving Jennifer Rodgers.” Rodgers is Martha Rothaug’s daughter, and much of Rothaug’s saga was first reported in the 2017 story “Fighting for Mom” in the Northern Express.

“The court thought Jill Case would be better to take care of my mother than her own daughter,” Rodgers told the Record-Eagle. “She loved the power.”

In Antrim County, the family of a 74-year-old man, Thomas Dobrzelewski, has been at odds with his former conservator concerning $23,000 they say hasn’t been accounted for following the sale of a portion of Thomas’ land. The family has filed paperwork with the probate court questioning expenses – including home repairs and shopping trips to Walmart — where his conservator spent thousands of dollars.

Dobrzelewski’s conservator, Vicki Hamlin-Rogers denied any wrongdoing, but has yet to show the family receipts, court records show.

When one of Dobrzelewski’s children took over their father’s conservatorship, the family found he had $1,475 to his name. When his wife died, Dobrzelewski did not have enough money to afford her headstone.

The Dobrzelewskis declined to comment on the case, but said they hoped their father’s guardianship saga could be instructive for fixing guardianship broadly.

“The current system provides easy opportunity for the exploitation of our most vulnerable population by the very courts and conservators and/or guardians charged with protecting them,” the family told the Record-Eagle in an emailed statement. “Many of the most vulnerable have no capability to challenge the fiduciary decisions and accountings made by conservators and/or guardians.”

Hamlin-Rogers is a professional guardian based in Emmet County. She has more than 20 wards between Emmet, Otsego, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse and Antrim probate courts. In Charlevoix, the Record-Eagle found Hamlin-Rogers had expensed $20,000 for “home repairs” in another conservatorship, not unlike some expenses flagged by the Dobrzelewskis in Antrim.

Charlevoix Court Probate Registrar Mary Clees said Judge Valerie K. Snyder – the same judge who appointed Elise Page to George Pappas – looks at every receipt meticulously, but that no public records exist detailing Hamlin-Rogers’ expenses.

Reached for comment, Hamlin-Rogers said that she had nothing to add to the Dobrzelewski case beyond the vacate order issued by the court. She did not reply to a question regarding her expenses on her Charlevoix conservatorship.

The family’s dispute was being mediated via the Antrim Probate Court, but has been paused pending the outcome of a referral of Hamlin-Rogers’ case to the Michigan State Police. Antrim County Prosecutor James Rossiter confirmed he is reviewing an MSP investigation into accusations of embezzlement passed to his office in October 2021 to determine whether to levy criminal charges in the case.

In cases where guardians or conservators run afoul of the law, making a victim whole again isn’t a sure thing.

Page, Pappas’ former conservator, was prosecuted for embezzlement, convicted and sentenced to pay $15,269 in court costs and restitution, plus spend 11 months in jail. She served five months, with the remainder held in abeyance, and is currently on probation. Page declined to comment for this story through her attorney, Jonathan Steffy.

Pappas will turn 97 in September and said he’s dissatisfied with how the court handled his case. He did receive a $2,500 check in the mail from a victim restitution fund, and Page is expected to get a job and pay back the money she owes to Pappas and to the court.

But probation documents state, for now, Page can pay court costs in monthly installments of $30.

At that rate, Pappas won’t be repaid until he’s 138 years old.

‘Putting blinders on’

Courtesy of Milton Mack Jr.
Months into his first term in office, Judge Milton Mack Jr. wanted to mend fences.

Mack was less than a year into his new job as state court administrator, a position which oversees every court in Michigan and is housed within the State Court Administrative Office.

A decade before his appointment, a Michigan Auditor General’s report cited numerous flaws in how probate judges monitored conservators. The auditors wrote that judges were “generally not effective” in monitoring conservatorships, and that SCAO should revisit how Michigan’s probate courts review annual accountings.

Mack said the probate judges bristled at the auditor’s conclusions, and at SCAO’s lack of support. He argued that law changes in 2001 altered the responsibilities of probate courts; before the code was changed judges were required to look at detailed receipts, afterward they were only to request detailed receipts if a complaint was raised about the conservators’ spending.

“The criticism was just factually wrong, and SCAO did not back us up in the beginning,” said Mack, who was the Chief Judge of Wayne County Probate Court at the time.

So Mack set out to rebuild trust between probate judges and SCAO.

Mack encouraged probate judges to begin influencing SCAO, allowing them to help pick regional administrators and have a say on guidelines regarding guardians, he said. The overarching focus was on strategies that were inexpensive and effective, building off the premise “that complicated doesn’t get stuff done,” Mack said.

One of those changes was to eliminate the requirement for local courts to tell his office about negligent guardians.

In a memo from July 2016, Mack told Michigan probate court officials they no longer needed to tell SCAO the names of conservators or guardians who fail to write in about their wards’ condition, or those whose annual financial accountings are deficient. Instead, the courts should just tell the SCAO how many cases were deficient. The changes, the memo explained, were done in the name of “streamlining.”

“When possible, SCAO reduces or eliminates reports to strike a better balance between reporting levels and effective oversight,” the memo states. “This month, SCAO streamlined the Deficiencies in Guardianship/Conservatorship Administration Report (SCAO 65) by eliminating Part B. Effective immediately, the report will no longer include a detailed list of deficiencies, with the case number, name of fiduciary, date, type, and court action for every deficiency over the past six months.”

A Record-Eagle reporter asked Mack why the state wouldn’t want to track the names of deficient guardians. Mack said his office didn’t need those names, that the reports created more paperwork, and that when they arrived at SCAO’s office in Lansing, they were being filed away in a cabinet.

“Having all those names doesn’t help SCAO do its job and it’s extra work for the courts that is nonproductive,” Mack said. “It would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

Mack served at the head of SCAO until 2020, when he became State Court Administrator Emeritus – a position newly created for him. Mack said one of his roles is to advise the new Administrator Thomas Boyd, on issues like guardianship, where Mack has expertise.

One of Mack’s critics is Bradley Geller, former legal counsel to the Washtenaw County Probate Court and director of the Michigan Center for Law and Aging. Geller said Mack’s tenure at the SCAO weakened an already ineffective oversight apparatus.

Geller said state court officials have no idea how many professional guardians operate in Michigan, or how many wards some of these guardians have. He said the same “willful ignorance” guided the decision to curtail court reporting.

“In other words it’s like putting blinders on,” said Geller. “The less you know, the less obligation you have to actually administer the courts.That’s consistent with Milton Mack and it’s consistent with SCAO.”

Geller is a vocal and longtime critic of Michigan’s guardianship system. In 2017, Geller attempted to sue every probate court in the state in federal court. In his complaint, Geller wrote that judges and state agencies were failing to dismantle a “good old boys club” which was inappropriately institutionalizing vulnerable people to the advantage of lawyers, guardians and judges. Geller’s case was dismissed on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Geller himself was terminated from his job as probate counsel at the Washtenaw County Probate Court in 2004. Geller said he was fired alongside a number of probate court staff by then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Maura Corrigan. The firings came in the wake of a state audit that detailed lax oversight of conservators by Washtenaw County Probate Court staff.

Mack said that his work didn’t weaken SCAO’s oversight and that his form is still effective without names. A better solution, Mack said, lies in a $175 million proposal to digitize and unify Michigan’s courts, a proposal that Mack put forth in 2018 but that has not moved since then. Shared record-keeping would allow SCAO to easily spot bad actors working across Michigan counties.

SCAO isn’t the only state office with oversight responsibility, however. The Michigan Attorney General also plays a role by appointing public administrators. Public administrators are guardians for entire counties who take the cases of wards who have no relatives. They also handle estates, and are supposed to distribute the remaining money in an estate according to a decedent’s will.

These administrators have come under public scrutiny, and even been fired, and yet some retain guardianships and conservatorships.

Attorney General Dana Nessel and former AG Bill Schuette terminated a handful of public administrators following media reports of questionable attorneys fees and assets not being turned over to rightful heirs. But despite being fired, the same former administrators retained an unknown number of guardianship and conservatorship cases.

Schuette in 2017 fired Oakland County public administrators Barbara Andruccioli and Jon Munger; former Macomb County public administrator Cecil St. Pierre resigned after being suspended. Nessel in 2019 fired administrators Jennifer Carney, Thomas Fraser and John Yun, also of Oakland County, as well as Robert Kirk, a public administrator in Macomb County.

John Munger has no active cases in Oakland County, but Jennifer Carney has 415 open or adjudicated cases, Thomas Fraser has 560 open or adjudicated cases and John Yun has 577 open or adjudicated cases, court records show.

An Oakland County Probate Court representative defined an adjudicated case as a case in which a judge has ruled, sometimes adding a co-guardian or discharging one guardian and replacing them with another, though the case may still come before the court for further rulings.

In many and perhaps even most of the above cases, Carney, Yun and Fraser may no longer have an active role, though data on the court’s website is inexact and all three are listed on the county’s Professional Guardian List.

Katharyn Barron, appointed in 2019 as Michigan’s public administrator, said she didn’t view this as a problem.

“Just because we removed them from their job as county public admin, that had nothing to do with their role as a guardian or conservator for individuals,” Barron said. “The court appoints them not because they’re the county public admin, but because they’re a private attorney.”

Andruccioli in 2018 was hired as Oakland County’s probate register and continues in that role today.

Meanwhile, there are also some 1,600 people under guardianship in Michigan with no immediate relatives. These cases all default to the Attorney General, who, by law, is the last person of interest in a case when there is no one else.

Under Nessel, it is Barron’s duty as state public administrator to blow the whistle on any questionable reports or annual accountings submitted by her wards’ guardians and conservators.

An unknown number of these are filed in undigitized courts across the state and are labor-intensive to track.

Barron is also the chair of Nessel’s Elder Abuse Task Force, where she coordinates a committee of more than 100 officials, lawyers, elder advocates and politicians, seeking to improve life for the state’s elderly.

Still, Barron said she checks on “each and every one” of these 1,600 cases, something she’s been able to accomplish with the help of remote court hearings, her office manager and a contracted law student.

Failures of reform

Elected Michigan officials have been trying to fix guardianship for decades, though each attempt has yielded little real change.

Murmurings of guardianship abuse in Michigan emerged in 1996. The Associated Press reported on the for-profit businesses of Alan May, a Wayne County professional guardian, and on guardians across the state with self-dealing arrangements between nursing homes and conservators.

Since then, elected officials established committee after committee to study the issue. For example, in 1996, the State Supreme Court convened a task force on guardianship reform. They produced 11 recommendations, including that “minimum ethical standards for professional guardians and professional conservators should be promulgated and enforced.”

Three years after those reforms were instituted, a 2003 report from the Office of the Auditor General showed problems in the probate courts. Auditors took a sampling of cases from Washtenaw, Wayne, Huron, Calhoun and Jackson counties. In one court, the auditors found 44 out of 114 annual accountings filed by conservators should not have been approved.

“For example, in 1 case a conservator reported annual expenditures of $37,198, but documented expenditures of only $27,717. In another case, a conservator reported nursing home expenditures of $15,558 but provided documentation supporting only $4,740,” the audit states.

In 2005, then-Governor Jennifer Granholm established another task force. This one also recommended minimum standards for guardians. The task force warned that “incidence of elder abuse is likely to rise significantly” over the next 20 years,” owing to Michigan’s aging population.

The recommendations led to no new legislation. When state auditors returned in 2012, they found the state court administrators had only complied with a few of the recommendations made in 2003.

Again, auditors recommended more oversight. And again, SCAO officials agreed.

The office would revamp its use of SCAO 65, officials promised, which would help probate courts identify conservators and guardians with “repeated deficiencies.”

This was the same form that, under the administration of Milton Mack, was “streamlined” to exclude names entirely – making it useless in terms of identifying specific bad actors.

In 2019, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the creation of the latest Elder Abuse Task Force. Since its inception more than 100 members — judges, lawyers, guardians, advocates, accountants – have met monthly via Zoom. Reforming guardianships, conservatorships and court practices is one of the task force’s goals.

Chief among them was the idea that guardians should be certified — effectively licensed – by an agency such as Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. LARA already oversees licenses of professions from nursing, medicine, child care and even barbers.

Reformers have urged lawmakers to pass a certification requirement since the 1990s, which would mandate education, training, background checks and insurance bonding for guardians and conservators.

Salli Pung, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, chairs the task force’s subcommittee on certification, something which is already a requirement in 14 U.S. states.

“If we’re going to require certification for a dog groomer, we should be requiring it for people who are responsible for every aspect of someone’s life,” Pung said.

Only two of Nessel’s task force’s many initiatives have so far been accomplished. Banks must now report fraud of vulnerable adults and there’s a new form for law enforcement to use when reporting that fraud.

The fate of the other seven — including certification – is tied to proposed legislation stalled in the House Judiciary Committee since June 2021.

Members of the task force said the proposed legislation has elicited objections from trade groups representing judges and guardians.

Judge John Tomlinson, president of the Probate Judges Association, said the initial package would slow the court’s ability to deal with emergent guardianship cases. “PJA couldn’t approve the first package of bills,” Tomlinson said.

The Michigan Guardianship Association also publicly opposed the package, including certification requirements that would require regular visits and limits on the number of wards a guardian can accept. The organization has spent $18,000 per year in lobbying expenses.

MGA representative Georgia Callis in March agreed to an interview with Record-Eagle reporters, canceled a scheduled interview, then stopped responding to requests to reschedule.

Guardians and judges have traditionally opposed oversight measures, such as capping how many wards can be assigned to one guardian.

If there’s money in a person’s estate, a guardian makes $83 per month, or about $1,000 per year. To make minimum wage, a professional guardian would need at least 20 wards.

Mack and Tomlinson said many shoot for 30 or more, on the assumption that some cases will be managed pro bono.

Judges have expressed concern over whether “capping” would leave thousands of vulnerable people in Michigan unguarded. According to Milton Mack, it’s very likely that the first wards to be dropped would be those being served pro-bono.

Mack said he was worried that, by regulating guardians, the new task force might actually end up leaving hundreds of vulnerable adults out to dry.

Legislation proposed by the task force is now in its third revision, and has been modified significantly.

If passed, the new law no longer would “cap” the number of wards a guardian can be appointed to serve, for example. Other changes have also been edited out of the initial bills, including requirements for guardians to personally visit their wards.

Several members of Granholm’s 2006 task force described their previous efforts as fruitless, in part because of pushback from guardians and judges.

“I don’t remember that there was a lot of change. I think I would have celebrated it if there was,” said Sharon L. Gire, a task force member and former director of Michigan’s Office of Services to the Aging.

“And there certainly were professionals in the field – attorneys who make a living – who were very concerned about not having too much control over what they do,” Gire said.

Barron vowed Nessel’s task force won’t have similarly insubstantial results.

“We’re not a task force that is going to write a report and then pat ourselves on the back and ride off into the sunset,” Barron said. “We’re not report-writers. We’re initiative accomplishers.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who was also on the 2006 task force, said she’s skeptical.

“That’s what they said the last time. That’s not what happened. The task force met, we had some very good discussion, it was a very comprehensive report, and then literally nothing happened,” said Worthy.

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