Archive for March, 2011

>Protecting Iowa’s Senior Citizens

March 31, 2011

>During this video, Senator Dennis Black speaks in depth of the Bob Queener case:

YouTube: Protecting Iowa’s Senior Citizens

See Also:
Update on Bob Queener Case

>Caregivers and Guardian Arrested

March 31, 2011

>Three people who had been caring for a disabled Utah woman who was found dead are accused of beating her, putting a pepper seed in her eye, and binding her wrists and ankles with restraints so she couldn’t remove it.

Police found 22-year-old Christina Harms dead Friday in her home in the town of Kearns, about 24 kilometres south of Salt Lake City.

Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal says investigators found Harms’ body covered in bruises and marks on her wrists and ankles consistent with the use of restraints.

An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending, but police believe the abuse was a key factor.

Hoyal says Harms’ live-in caregivers and her legal guardian were arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail on Sunday. No bail has been set.

Utah Caregivers, Guardian Arrested After Death of 22-Year-Old Disabled Woman

>Abuse Caught on Camera

March 31, 2011

>A family is planning to sue a New Jersey nursing home. They say an elderly family member died in January following physical abuse by a nursing aide.

87-year-old Mondesta Alvarado died at the Harborage Nursing Home in North Bergen, N.J. Alvarado was paralyzed and terminally ill when she was allegedly abused.

Former aide Julia Galvan is accused of repeatedly striking Alvarado. The abuse was captured on a video camera the family installed in her room after they suspected mistreatment. Galvan is also accused of removing her oxygen mask.

Criminal charges are pending against Galvan.

Source and Video:
Abuse of 87-Year-Old Caught on Camera

>Brain Damaged Mom Can See Her Triplets

March 30, 2011

>Paraplegic mother Abbie Dorn has been in the middle of a visitation battle with ex-husband Dan Dorn after he has refused to let her see their triplets after brain damage sustained during delivery of the triplets. Terry McCarthy reports with more and Russ Mitchell spoke with Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom and Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein to discuss the legal perspective and psychological effects that may be involved with the mother and children thereafter.

Brain Damaged Mom Can See Her Triplets,Judge Rules

See Also:
Abbie Dorn Court Battle Set for May 13

>80-Year-Old New Jersey Lawyer Charged With Theft

March 30, 2011

>The Passaic County Prosecutor has charged 80-year-old Clifton lawyer Kenneth Brookman of North Caldwell with three counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property.

Prosecutor Camelia Valdes announced the arrest of the 1135 Clifton Ave., lawyer on Tuesday. According to the Prosecutor’s office, Brookman’s license to practice law, obtained in 1956, was suspended July 2010.

The complaints against Brookman, according to the Prosecutor’s office, allege Brookman stole about $100,000 from three clients during 2008 to 2010.

In the first matter, Brookman failed to disburse $74,539 to the beneficiary of an estate, according to the Prosecutor’s office. In the second matter, Brookman failed to pay over a $17,000 deposit being escrowed on a real estate transaction and in the third case, Brookman again failed to distribute $5,069 to the beneficiaries of an estate, according to the Prosecutor.

During the period of the thefts, Brookman illegally transferred clients’ funds out of his Attorney Trust Account to his personal bank account or otherwise converted the entrusted funds to his personal use, a release by the prosecutor’s office reads.

Theft by Failure to make Required Disposition of Property (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-9) is a third degree offense punishable by up to five years in state prison.

Full Article and Source:
Clifton Lawyer, 80, Charged With Theft

>Arizona Legislative Tug of War

March 29, 2011

>SB 1499 should be killed, and HB2424 passed without further delay, with one amendment: quarterly reports in the first year, semiannual in the second, and annually in the third and subsequent years of a guardianship or conservatorship, because fiduciary fees are out of control. All “Interested persons” should receive copies, without having to apply for same, and “interested persons” will do a better monitoring job than the courts would or could.

One need look no further than the Marie Long case and the outrageous and obscene fee billings by the fiduciaries to know that there must be a cap on attorney fees in the probate courts.

If family law was the “bread and butter” of the Bar, then guardianship and conservatorship may be the new “caviar.” The purpose of HB2424 is to put a cap on fees, and the purpose of SB1499 is to create a total management plan in favor of continued asset bleeding.

The word “vexatious” in SB 1499 is a very red flag. It tells us that that section of the Bill on fees is drafted solely to harass or subdue an adversary – the family -to shut them out of court by means of financial harassment and punishment.

Never in our experience do we hear of probate lawyers being tagged as “vexatious” litigants. The Senate version of a probate remedy sounds like a euthanasia Bill for families! It is a total put-down to any attempt by the family to fight unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships.

The dirty secrets are all out – there is no reform that can help protect the greedy fiduciaries any longer. The probate courts must clean up their act – not by statutory tricks such as in 1499, but by imposing fee caps on the “caviar-consuming” lawyers, by applying the existing statutes properly,and protecting the civil liberties and human rights of the wards and their families. Retaliation by a guardian in prohibiting visitation must be met with quickly and severely.

>If Anyone’s Listening, Here’s a Way to Cut Through the Competing Probate Noise

March 29, 2011

>For anyone not already tone deaf with a case of earsplitting self-interest, a court-appointed attorney in Maricopa County, Arizona’s Probate Court offers his own cogent solution to what’s become a contest of the dueling probate reformers at the state capitol. The attorney’s name is Jon D. Kitchel and he’s in private practice.

Currently, two bills, one from the state senate and the other from the state house, are vying to conjure up ‘the better prescription’ to cure what’s been ailing the local probate court.

Senate Bill 1499 is supported by the courts, probate lawyers, the fiduciaries and other interested stakeholders. The other is House Bill 2424, which is promoted by activists and family members of wards who’ve run up against the buzz saw and are still licking wounds from the experience.

Jon Kitchel’s “Open Letter” is as follows:

“…..The Legislature is currently considering alternatives that might improve the system. Here are three substantive changes the Legislature could make to improve our system:

First, require fiduciaries to provide regular financial reports to wards or their counsel if they choose to receive them. Current statutes require a conservator to file an annual accounting listing income and expenses a year after the money is gone. It’s not possible for anyone to monitor an estate without regular financial reports.

“Second, reduce (or eliminate) the barrier to fiduciary substitution. Sometimes a relationship between a fiduciary and ward is unproductive. It may be too expensive or it may simply be a personality conflict. Under our current system, only the court may determine if that relationship should be ended. That determination is made after expensive litigation in which both sides of the conflict are paid from the ward’s estate.

A better system would allow a ward (as often as once a year) to ask the court to appoint a successor fiduciary for any reason. Fiduciaries, like anyone else, should have to compete for business based on price and performance. If another qualified fiduciary is available and willing to serve (consistent with the ward’s best interests) the court should be required to appoint a successor…..

Third, if a ward is paying the bill, the person being paid should have a primary duty to the ward. That includes both the fiduciary and the lawyer hired by the fiduciary with the ward’s money. A fiduciary and his attorney should not be keeping secrets from the ward while charging the ward for doing so….

…Arizona’s legislature could take a large step forward to real probate reform by stepping on a few bureaucratic toes and granting Arizona’s wards three basic rights: the right to receive regular financial reports, the right to elect substitution of a fiduciary for any reason, and the right to expect all professionals paid by the ward to put the ward’s interests first.”

If Anyone’s Listening, Here’s the Way to Cut Through the Competing Probate Noise at the AZ Legislature

>A Visual Guide to Probate "Process"

March 29, 2011

>For those looking for a visual aid to explain the probate court process, here’s a chart produced as part of the Republic’s investigative series.

CRISISA descent into Alzheimer’s dementia. A debilitating stroke. Even an addiction.

The outcome: You are rendered temporarily or permanently incapacitated, unable to provide for your own health and personal care or manage your finances. If there is no one willing or able to care for you, Maricopa County Probate Court may step in.

Family or friends: Reliable family members or friends may intervene to oversee your care and finances, honoring any power-of-attorney or trust documents you had prepared. However, if a feud among family members later erupts over your care or money, Maricopa County Probate Court may step in.

Full Article and Source:
Courthouse Steps

>SB1499 Will Bring Order To Probate Court Chaos

March 29, 2011

>The stories are heartbreaking and upsetting. Arizona seniors losing most or all of their life’s savings because of the actions of unscrupulous individuals appointed to manage their finances. The time has come to reform Probate Courts in our state.

Senate Bill 1499 is a comprehensive package that gives “truth in probate” to Arizona’s families. Probate law is complicated, and we have worked hard to make sure we have the right plan to help families making decisions at a very difficult stage.

Currently, the people most vulnerable don’t have the power to bring change. SB 1499 shifts the balance of power back to those navigating the process.

Probate victims are demanding that we stop the runaway costs associated with the current process. In response, SB 1499 demands that a proposed guardian must submit a good-faith estimate of all costs up front to avoid any sticker shock for families. That is the time that families must know what the expenses will be, so they are able to make an informed decision.

Shortly after being appointed, the conservator/guardian is required to have a detailed budget in place. If the conservator goes over budget, it won’t see the money unless there is a clear, defensible explanation. SB 1499 also addresses past problems by limiting when payments to fiduciaries and attorneys may start, and forcing the professionals to submit their bills in a timely manner.

We also make sure the ward is protected. Current law makes it too difficult to remove fiduciaries that don’t get along with their clients. Because of this, the fiduciaries often fight in the courts to keep their jobs. This rapidly drives up costs for the wards, who are responsible for all litigation costs.

Full Article and Source:
SB1499 Will Bring Order to Probate Court Chaos

>Mickey Rooney’s Conservatorship is Permanent

March 28, 2011

>Mickey Rooney’s legal and financial affairs will remain under the permanent control of his lawyer after a judge in Los Angeles ruled his conservatorship should stay in place indefinitely.

The veteran actor’s attorney Michael Augustine was appointed temporary conservator in February (11) after the Oscar-winner filed court papers claiming his step-son Christopher Aber had been trying to convince him to sign over control of his assets.

The 90 year old alleged he feared for his safety and in a sworn declaration to the court, Augustine claimed he had found $400,000 missing from one of the star’s bank accounts. A judge granted his request for a restraining order against Aber and his wife.

The case went back to court on 3/25 and a judge made the conservatorship permanent. The restraining order against the Abers was not extended, but the couple has reportedly agreed to continue staying away from Rooney.

Full Article and Source:
Mickey Rooney’s Conservatorship Made Permanent

See Also:
Mickey Rooney the Champion!