Archive for January, 2012

Many Baby Boomers Don’t Plan to Leave Their Children an Inheritance

January 31, 2012

Carol Willison has made lots of financial sacrifices for her two children over the years, including paying most of her older daughter’s medical school tuition. But Willison’s generosity has reached its limits.

Not only doesn’t the 60-year-old Seattle woman plan to leave her daughters an inheritance when she dies, she’s trying to spend every last dime on herself before she goes.

“My goal is when they carry me away in that box that my bank account is going to say zero,” Willison said. “I’m going to spoil myself now.”

Upending the conventional notion of parents carefully tending their financial estates to be passed down at the reading of their wills, many baby boomers say they instead plan to spend the money on themselves while they’re alive.

In a survey of millionaire boomers by investment firm U.S. Trust, only 49% said it was important to leave money to their children when they die. The low rate was a big surprise for a company that for decades has advised wealthy people how to leave money to their heirs.

“We were like ‘wow,'” said Keith Banks, U.S. Trust president.

Full Article and Source:
Many Baby Boomers Don’t Plan to Leave Their Children an Inheritance

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NC Woman Arrested and Charged with Misappropriation of Nearly $100K From Elderly Woman

January 31, 2012

A Burlington woman has been arrested on charges of misappropriating nearly $100,000 from an elderly woman.

Jessica Lynn Isley, 42, was arrested after eight months of investigation by Alamance County deputies.

Deputies received a report from the Alamance County Department of Social Services in May of possible exploitation of an elderly adult.

Deputies allege Isley, who had power of attorney, used some of the money to help pay for a Chrysler 300, which is registered in Isley’s name. Deputies have seized the car as evidence.

The money was allegedly used to pay for the car’s down payment, finance payments, auto insurance and property taxes, deputies said.

The investigation involved executing multiple search warrants and obtaining court orders for financial records, deputies said.

Deputies allege Isley also used the victim’s credit card.

Isley was charged with one count of exploiting an elderly adult and one count of financial card fraud.

Full Article and Source:
Deputies: Suspect Misappropriated $97k from Elderly Woman

NASGA Press Release: Boomers Beware of Guardianship and Conservatorship Abuse

January 30, 2012

For immediate release
January 30, 2012

For more information contact:
Annie McKenna, NASGA Media Liaison

Boomers Beware of Guardianship and Conservatorship Abuse

2012 won’t be a happy year for aging Boomers taking care of their aged parents or becoming vulnerable themselves. Even if they had planned ahead by executing advance directives and making careful estate plans, they risk being sucked into an almost secret system which feeds itself by preying upon their vulnerability.

“Guardianships” or “Conservatorships” are “protective” proceedings managed by our American justice system in state courts across the country. Without adequate monitoring and oversight, there is a growing trampling of constitutional protections and civil and human rights by the very persons supposedly protecting our loved ones.

Fiduciaries – “persons of trust” – appointed by the courts to protect those adjudicated as incompetent are thus free to engage in a feeding frenzy: aggressively overbilling the estates of their wards with unnecessary and outrageous fees until there is nothing left.

The system is out of control and running amok, contrary to original intent, which was to:

• GUARD the vulnerable person from harming him/herself or others;
• CONSERVE his/her assets through prudent investment; and
• PROTECT the taxpaying public from the person becoming a public charge.

The result of these unlawful and abusive proceedings, among other things, is that when wards’ estates are bled dry by the excessive fee billing of fiduciaries, these wards are added by the fiduciary to the Medicaid rolls on the backs of taxpayers, victimizing the taxpaying public as well – an appalling travesty of law.

NASGA was created by family members and friends of victims of so-called “protective” proceedings where court-appointed fiduciaries took control of the lives, liberty and property of their loved ones and then breached their fiduciary duty, causing extensive and expensive litigation.

Boomers Beware of Guardianship Abuse
Boomers Beware of Conservatorship Abuse

GAO Report: Guardianships – Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect and Abuse of Seniors

KY Lawyers Join Call to End Improper Use of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Facilities

January 29, 2012

Kentucky nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer Lee Coleman endorsed a recommendation to penalize nursing homes that use powerful psychiatric drugs inappropriately to calm patients who have dementia.

“We support the recommendations by U.S. Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson that nursing homes that continue to inappropriately drug their residents with antipsychotic medications be denied Medicare payments for these drugs,” said Coleman, of Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers, a Kentucky personal injury firm that focuses on protecting the rights and interests of nursing home abuse and neglect victims.

“Medicare officials must step in to curb this dangerous practice, because they hold the purse strings,” Coleman said.

According to a Fox News report, Levinson recently told the Senate Committee on Aging that hundreds of thousands of elderly nursing home patients in the U.S. with dementia regularly receive drugs designed to control hallucinations, delusions and other abnormal behavior in people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Despite repeated government warnings that the practice is unapproved, nursing homes administer antipsychotic drugs to control the aggressive behavior that is sometimes symptomatic of dementia, the report said. Antipsychotics raise blood sugar and cholesterol, often resulting in weight gain and other side effects dangerous to the elderly.

Levinson proposed that Medicare force nursing homes to pay for drugs that are prescribed inappropriately and consider barring nursing homes that continue to use antipsychotics inappropriately from Medicare, according to the Associated Press.

Full Article and Source:
Kentucky Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Join Call to End Improper Use of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

See Also:
Bowling Green Attorney Says Lawmakers Missed Opportunity To Protect State’s Nursing Home Residents From Abuse And Neglect

Nebraska Chief Justice Outlines Efficiency Effort

January 29, 2012

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican outlined plans for a new, regional approach to court services designed to improve efficiency.

Heavican told lawmakers in his fifth annual State of the Judiciary address that the courts are launching a series of pilot programs this year, with help from the National Center for State Courts.

The chief justice said he anticipates a rise in the number of guardianships and conservatorship cases, driven by the state’s growing elderly population. While the total population of the state is expected to grow 11 percent by 2030, he said, the number of Nebraskans between the ages of 70 and 79 is expected to grow by more than 80 percent.

Heavican said the courts have adopted the requirements of a new state law requiring background checks for guardians and conservators, who make decisions for elderly relatives or others who are incapacitated. The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, also requires that conservators post bonds when the assets of their wards are greater than $10,000.

“None of us is naïve enough to believe that elderly persons will no longer be subject to abuse,” Heavican said. “But the statutory changes made by the Legislature, which are being implemented by the judicial branch, will provide for better checks and balances.”

Full Article and Source:
Nebraska Chief Justice Outlines Efficiency Effort

Florida Assisted Living Facilities Under the Gun

January 28, 2012

Prompted by reports of substandard care and abuse, the Senate is poised to pass much tougher standards for Florida’s assisted living facilities, but the initial reaction from key House members and lobbyists remains unclear as bills began to move Thursday.

There was no opposition Thursday as two Senate panels passed committee bills that would tighten Florida’s oversight of ALFs. The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee passed SPB 7176, while the Senate Health Regulation Committee passed SPB 7174 – both of which would close ALFs when a resident dies of abuse or neglect.

The bills would also increase monitoring and criminal sanctions, boost the qualifications for administrators and staffers, and give residents and their families more protection.

“This could be really watershed legislation in protecting the lives of 80,000 individuals who live in assisted living facilities in this state,” Bob Sharpe, CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, told lawmakers. “If you’re successful in sustaining the provisions of this bill throughout the session, you will have done a remarkable thing.”

In the wake of last year’s Miami Herald investigative series “Neglected to Death,” lawmakers began responding to reports of dreadful conditions and care at some of the state’s nearly 3,000 ALFs. Statewide, residents were dying of abuse and neglect at a rate of nearly one per month. The Herald also found that inspections by the Agency for Health Care Administration had dropped 33 percent over the past five years, even as reports of abuse and neglect increased.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Living Facilities Under the Gun

Nursing Home Abuse Settlement Brings $200 mil

January 28, 2012

When nursing home abuse happens, most families feel helpless to their loved ones who were victimized. It is very common for families to not know what course of action to take and feel scared at the thought of seeking justice. In a record breaking-case, $200 million dollars was awarded to a patient’s family in a tragic elderly abuse case.

The 92-year-old victim was a resident at a nursing home and suffered from dementia. Her body was found at the bottom of a stairwell while she was strapped in a wheelchair. The staff at the nursing home testified that the door to the stairwell was supposed to be locked at all times but that many members of the staff disabled the alarm in order to go smoke. The nursing home had been cited multiple times with deficiency citations and abuse complaints while the aids stated that it was frequently understaffed. The case was against Trans Health Management Inc., who at the time had the sole authority to operate the home at the time.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Abuse Settlement Brings $200 Million Dollars

MA Appeals Court Says No Way to Forced Abortion

January 27, 2012

A Massachusetts appeals court has verbally skewered a judge who ordered that a mentally ill woman have an abortion against her will even if it meant she had to be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed” into a hospital.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court this week overturned the ruling by Norfolk Probate Judge Christina L. Harms, who had also ordered that the 32-year-old woman, known as “Mary Moe,” be sterilized.

The appellate decision noted that Moe “has consistently expressed her opposition to abortion” and likely would “continue to do so if she were competent.”

The facts in the case are not in dispute, according to court documents. Moe, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder, is a few months pregnant. She has been pregnant twice before: The first time she had an abortion; the second time she gave birth to a boy who is now in the custody of her parents. Between her abortion and the birth of her son, she suffered a “psychotic break,” and has been hospitalized numerous times for mental illness.

At a December hearing, the state Department of Mental Health asked a court to grant temporary guardianship of Moe to her parents. That would allow the parents, who were already caring for one child, to give consent to an abortion for their daughter. (Court documents do not mention who the father is.)

Harms approved the guardianship, finding that Moe was incompetent to decide on an abortion based on “several and substantial delusional beliefs” -– including that Moe mistakenly believed she had a daughter and that she had previously met the judge.

According to the appellate ruling:
The judge ordered that Moe’s parents be appointed as coguardians and that Moe could be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed … by ruse” into a hospital where she would be sedated and an abortion performed.

“…the judge directed that any medical facility that performed the abortion also sterilize Moe at the same time ‘to avoid this painful situation from recurring in the future.”

Moe’s court-appointed lawyer, Doug Boyer, appealed Harms’ decision.

Disabled Patients’ Wishes Ignored

January 27, 2012

The wishes of individuals declared mentally incompetent often go unheeded in family court, lawyers and social workers say, costing them control over the most personal decisions.

In light of this month’s stunning family court ruling that a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia should undergo an abortion and be sterilized, mental health specialists say the case, while an extreme example, casts light on an often unsettling reality for those deemed unable to make decisions for themselves.

Even when individuals voice opposition to a course of treatment, from antipsychotic medication to hospitalization, the courts often rule otherwise, lawyers say.

“It happens regularly,’’ said Robert Fleischner, an attorney at the Center for Public Representation in Northampton who specializes in mental health and disability law.

Those who work in the family court system generally praise Massachusetts for its progressive attitudes toward incapacitated individuals, saying their voices typically are allowed greater force here than in other states.

Yet many worry that the recent ruling, which only came to light when it was reversed on appeal, suggests there could be broader a problem at play, and it prompted concern that the courts are not consistently honoring the rights of those declared incompetent.

“To think a ruling like this could even happen once is extremely disturbing,” said Rick Glassman, litigation director of the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts. No figures are kept on the number of court-ordered abortions and sterilizations in Massachusetts, but specialists say they are likely more common than typically assumed.

Full Article and Source:
Disabled Patients’ Wishes Ignored

Third-Party Guardian Appointed in Chism Case

January 27, 2012

YouTube: We Won, Channel 7

See Also:
Family Members Battle Over Sick Man’s Care