Archive for the ‘Conservatorship’ Category

DHHS often sells property owned by people in its care for well below assessed values

August 26, 2013

This waterfront property in Owls Head, that was valued by the town at nearly $500,000, was sold by the state for $205,000 while its owner was in a psychiatric hospital.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services routinely sells real estate owned by people in its care for well below their assessed values.

But the department defends its handling of such estates, saying that sales of properties are a last resort, that municipal valuations are not a fair gauge of a property’s worth, and that many of the properties have been allowed to deteriorate leading up to the state being appointed conservator.

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DHHS often sells property owned by people in its care for well below assessed values

Zsa Zsa Gabor’s daughter questions conservator’s use of money

August 25, 2013

LOS ANGELES — In newly filed court papers, an attorney for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s daughter questions how money from the 96-year-old actress’ estate is being spent by her husband, who also serves as her court-appointed temporary conservator.

Kenneth Kossoff, who represents Constance Francesca Gabor Hilton, is recommending that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz reject the inventory of income and expenses offered by Frederic Prinz von Anhalt and his lawyer, William Remery.

“The conservator (von Anhalt) throws frequent, lavish parties at (Gabor’s) house attended by strangers to (her), while (she) is confined to her bedroom,” Kossoff’s court papers state.

Von Anhalt also restricts Gabor’s daughter to entering the home through one door and does not invite her to birthday parties held for her mother, Kossoff wrote.

Gabor’s daughter filed her own conservatorship petition in March 2012 after learning the Bel Air home of her ailing, bedridden mother allegedly was in default over missed mortgage payments and that von Anhalt had obtained a six-figure loan against his wife’s equity in the property.

But both sides last summer reached an interim solution in favor of appointing von Anhalt as Gabor’s temporary conservator.

In May, Goetz approved the sale of the couple’s home for $11 million in an agreement that allows Gabor, an actress and contemporary of well-known celebrities and Coachella Valley residents such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra who once owned a home in Palm Springs, to remain at the Bel Air estate for three years.

Under law, von Anhalt is required to submit an accounting of expenses and income to Goetz.

Full Article and Source:
Zsa Zsa Gabor’s daughter questions conservator’s use of money

Deceit, Improprieties By Probate ‘Conservator’ Deprive Disabled Man Of Inheritance, Court Finds

August 5, 2013

A Wethersfield man suffering from cerebral palsy entrusted his affairs to a probate court-appointed lawyer, whose job as “conservator” was to protect his interests and assets. But those assets dwindled by tens of thousands of dollars amid improprieties by the lawyer, who tried to “hide his transgressions by filing knowingly false accountings,” a probate judge said in a recent ruling.

John Fritz, 64, of Wethersfield, hasn’t been able to get his money back. And his family so far has been unable to get law enforcement officials to investigate.

Meanwhile, Michael Schless, the longtime conservator — who was replaced last December in that role by Fritz’s half-brother — has retired as a lawyer and moved to Florida. He said in a brief interview last week that he’d done nothing wrong. “I deny stealing any money,” he said.

What happened to Fritz is exactly the opposite of what is supposed to happen when a judge of the Connecticut Probate Court appoints a conservator to manage the affairs — and protect the assets of — someone incapable of doing it himself.

Fritz, who was born with cerebral palsy, asked Connecticut Probate Court 25 years ago to appoint a conservator to manage his finances including an inheritance from his recently deceased mother that ultimately put his assets at more than $100,000.

In voluntary conservatorships like Fritz’s, a person who feels he needs such help can ask the probate court to give a “conservator” the power to handle his affairs by managing his finances, paying his bills and making various other arrangements.

Now his money market and stock accounts have shrunk to about $20,000, even though his family says they should have remained stable because his living annual living expenses are balanced out by Social Security payments and income from his limited part-time employment.

The sad story is told in public documents on file at Newington Probate Court.

When Fritz asked the probate court for a conservator, it appointed Schless, an attorney in Newington. The arrangement continued over the decades as Fritz has lived in a Wethersfield Housing Authority apartment building for the disabled and elderly.

Schless, as conservator, submitted annual financial accounting statements to the probate court in Newington.

Schless retired as a lawyer in recent years and moved to Boynton Beach, Florida. But he kept his role as Fritz’s conservator (you don’t have to be a lawyer to be someone’s conservator). Then, last year, Fritz’s half-brother and sister-in-law, James and Sharon Imbert of Newington, were shocked to see how little money was left in his accounts.

They particularly did not like the fact that Schless’s financial accounting statements showed net annual losses from Fritz’s stock and money-market accounts — of $9,333 for 2010, $12,752 for 2011, and $6,181. The Imberts obtained statements from the financial institutions and found that there actually had been a net gain of $1,451 in 2010, a loss of only $456 in 2011, and a gain of $254 for 2012.

They found other problems — including thousands of dollars in payments out of Fritz’s account for expenses that were not his. Examples, they said, were $1,074 to American Express, $39 to XM Satellite Radio, and $4.35 to the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida.

In cases like this, the probate court approves financial accountings in three-year batches after a hearing. After Schless submitted his reports for 2010, 2011, and 2012, Imbert challenged the accountings and sought the return of $58,147 to the state of his living half-brother.

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Deceit, Improprieties By Probate ‘Conservator’ Deprive Disabled Man Of Inheritance, Court Finds

Kirk Kerkorian ex-wife, stepson drop move for conservatorship

July 24, 2013

Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife and her son from another marriage have dropped their bids to be named conservators of the 96-year-old billionaire hotelier, who they maintained was in declining health, their attorney told a judge Monday.

During a brief hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas, lawyer Marshal Oldman said Lisa Bonder Kerkorian withdrew her petition Thursday and that 24-year-old Taylor Kreiss did the same on Monday.

Oldman declined to comment on his clients’ change of position but said Bonder Kerkorian has also abandoned her attempt to have a guardian appointed on behalf of her ex-husband in a separate proceeding in family law court.

Attorney Margaret Lodise, who represents Kerkorian, argued in court papers that her client’s ex-wife and Kreiss were using the conservatorship as a way of exerting pressure on the businessman to pay $500,000 a month in child support for Bonder Kerkorian’s teenage daughter, Kira. She maintains her ex-spouse is the teen’s father. Kerkorian has maintained he is not but previously agreed to pay some child support.

Bonder Kerkorian filed her conservatorship documents May 10, stating that her former husband, who has assets estimated at $2.9 billion, was under the control of his financial advisers at the Tracinda Corp. and needed intervention. She and Kreiss filed an amended petition June 4, asking that they be named joint conservators over Kerkorian.

Full Article and Source:
Kirk Kerkorian ex-wife, stepson drop move for conservatorship

Taking Care of Loved Ones: Guardianship and Conservatorship in Kentucky

July 21, 2013

Legal guardianship is designed to protect a legally disabled adult who can no longer meet his/her personal needs. The decision to pursue guardianship of an individual is never an easy decision. Often, such a decision emerges at the end of the road – e.g., when a family or friend has exhausted all other options and has no choice but to take legal action to ensure the proper care for and well-being of a loved one. The circumstances are never ideal, as common scenarios may involve a severely disabled child who has just reached the age of majority, or an elderly adult who is fighting Alzheimer’s.

An individual for whom the Court appoints a guardian may lose some or all of his/her civil rights. In instances where a full guardianship is granted, for example, a person may lose basic rights that we typically take for granted, including the right to marry or divorce, hold office, make a contract or will, own or sell property, or obtain a drivers’ license. In effect, the person is treated by law as a minor child without power to make his or her own substantive decisions. While the process can be emotionally painful, it is comforting that Kentucky courts recognize that guardianship is a serious, often life-changing issue. As a result, Kentucky generally has the most stringent guardianship statutes in the nation.

Any person concerned with the welfare of a person may initiate the guardianship process. First, a person must complete two forms: the Petition to Determine if Disabled and Application for Appointment of Fiduciary for Disabled Persons. These forms must be filed with the appropriate district court. The person asking for guardianship is referred to as the Petitioner, and the allegedly disabled person is designated as the Respondent.

Kentucky is the only state that requires a jury trial before a guardian can be appointed. Other states have provisions to provide for a jury if the disabled person requests it; however, the problem with this is evident — if a person is believed to lack the ability to care for one’s self, then it is possible he or she will not understand or comprehend the need for a jury.

Prior to trial, three professionals will generally examine the Respondent: a physician, psychologist, and social worker. This team will examine the Respondent at separate times to assess his/her abilities and needs. The findings are documented in a report, and include recommendations about if, and to what extent, guardianship is needed. These reports help to confirm and reassure a Petitioner that guardianship is the appropriate path or, alternatively, open his/her eyes to less-intrusive options.

Kentucky recognizes four different options for the care of a legally disabled person:

(1) A full guardianship, in which case a person is unable to take care of any of his needs;

(2) A limited guardianship, in which case a person can meet some, but not all, of his needs;

(3) A conservatorship, in which case the person only needs help with his finances; or

(4) A guardianship and conservatorship.

Pursuant to KRS 387.550, the professionals’ reports can be filed with the initial Petition. If this occurs, then the district court will hold a hearing within 30 days. If these reports are not filed with the Petition, then the court will order the evaluations and schedule a hearing within 60 days of the filing date. All interested parties, including the Petitioner, Respondent, and the proposed guardian (if different from the Petitioner), must receive notice of the hearing date at least two weeks before the hearing. If additional time is needed before the hearing occurs, any party may file a motion with the court to request an extension.

The hearing is held before a six-person jury. The allegedly disabled person is generally required to be at the hearing. In some circumstances, exceptions may be made if the attendance will subject the person to a risk of harm. It is the jury, and not the Judge, who is vested with the power to determine an individual’s fate with respect to guardianship. Kentucky not only requires a jury trial, but also vests the jury with explicit responsibilities to determine the extent of a person’s disability, if any. KRS 387.580 requires a jury to:

(1) Inquire into the nature and extent of the general intellectual functioning of the respondent;

(2) Inquire into the respondent’s capacity to make informed decisions concerning his personal affairs and financial resources;

(3) Determine whether the respondent is disabled, partially disabled, or has no disability in relation to the management of his financial resources; and

(4) Determine whether the respondent is disabled, partially disabled, or has not disability in relation to the management of his personal affairs.

The foregoing factors often help alleviate the emotion and bias of any individual juror involved in these matters. If the jury finds that the Respondent is not disabled, then the Petition is dismissed. If there is a finding of partial or full disability, then the Judge, without the aid of a jury, determines what kind of care the person (who will now legally be referred to as a “ward”) should receive, what powers a guardian or conservator will have, and the duration of his/her appointment.

The Court helps ensure that wards receive proper care by requiring annual reports from a guardian, which detail information such as the ward’s residence and location and the activities in which he or she is involved. When a conservator is appointed, the conservator has 60 days from appointment to assess the ward’s assets and income and report such information to the Court. A bi-annual financial report is thereafter required to help ensure that a ward’s assets are properly dispensed and accounted.

A person’s assumption of a guardianship or conservatorship role should not be taken lightly. The primary purpose of Kentucky’s guardianship laws is to protect citizens from harm. The Court recognizes, however, that guardianship or conservatorship is often necessary as a result of a particular individual’s circumstances. If you are considering applying for guardianship or conservatorship, we can help. Our attorneys are experienced in every step of the way – from the decision of whether to apply for guardianship/conservatorship through trial.

Full Article and Source:
Taking Care of Loved Ones: Guardianship and Conservatorship in Kentucky

Britney Spears has conservatorship hearing

July 17, 2013

Britney Spears has reportedly arrived to court and is meeting with a judge for a review of her father’s sole conservatorship of her estate.  The singer has remained under a conservatorship order since 2008 following a very public meltdown. According to Radar Online, the 31-year-old was escorted into the judge’s chambers by sheriff’s deputies for a private meeting.  The hearing is not expected to be open to the public.  The outlet reports the judge is conducting a routine review. “No changes are expected to be made,” according to Radar.

Full Article and Source:
Britney Spears has conservatorship hearing

See Also:
Britney Spears Has Had ENOUGH Of Her Conservatorship!

Woman wins award against group home in conservatorship case

July 5, 2013

A woman who was placed in a conservatorship without her knowledge has won a $23,050 award from a Sumner County court against a group home that put her to work caring for other residents while she was paying an $850 a month fee.

In a four-page ruling Circuit Court Judge C.L. Rogers ruled that Ginger Franklin of Hendersonville, who was recovering from head injuries, was the victim of “egregious and intentional abuse” while she was confined at a Nashville facility run by Salim Homes.

In the ruling, Rogers concluded that Franklin suffered “mental anguish of grief and worry” when she was forced to provide care for other disabled adults and perform cleaning duties for the owners of the group home.

Franklin was placed in a conservatorship on Aug. 25, 2008, after she fell at her Nashville condominium and suffered a brain injury. She was placed in a conservatorship by Davidson Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy and then county Public Guardian Jeanan Stuart was named as her conservator.

Stuart, who has since been removed from the post, placed Franklin at Salim Homes at 509 Phipps Drive in Nashville after she was released from an Illinois rehabilitation facility. Franklin eventually was released from the conservatorship in December of 2010.

In the ruling issued earlier this week, Rogers concluded that Franklin and other disabled residents of Salim Homes “were used to clean business properties and provide care for disabled adults” and also to clean the personal residences of the group home’s owners.

“Plaintiff had no success in contacting her conservator,” Rogers wrote, adding that Franklin “had reasonable fear and worry she could be put out for not cooperating, saying ‘No’ or objecting, she would have no place to go.”

Rogers wrote that it was the duty of Salim Homes “to provide care for these disabled adults. It was not to work a mentally dysfunctional, disabled adult and use them as free labor.”

As the ruling noted, Franklin was being charged $850 a month while at the group home.

Full Article and Source:
Woman wins award against group home in conservatorship case

Court: Iowa lawyers overbilled ill Vietnam veteran

June 18, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lawyers who billed a mentally ill Vietnam War veteran $125 per hour for “services,” such as attending his birthday parties and taking him shopping, will have their licenses suspended for 18 months, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.
 
Keota law partners Donald Laing and Scott Railsback falsely claimed too many hours for providing conservator services to John KIein over three decades and charged excessive rates for services that didn’t require legal training, the court ruled. The attorneys received $178,000 in excess fees while managing Klein’s assets — even while he complained that they didn’t give him enough money to buy cigarettes and energy drinks.
 
“They turned everything into a profit for themselves,” said Oskaloosa attorney Garold Heslinga, who exposed the excess after suing Laing and Railsback on behalf of Klein in 2008. “They charged him to go visit him on his birthday. They charged him for going to Iowa City to buy presents to give some woman. It was just ridiculous.”
 
He said the discipline should have come “a long time ago,” and now may have little impact. The pair’s former law firm has changed hands, and a secretary said Friday they’ve retired. Their phone numbers were disconnected.
 
Laing was appointed Klein’s conservator in 1974 after Klein inherited valuable farmland and property. Then 24, he did not have a legal guardian at the time. Klein, who had a history of paranoid schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse, later inherited additional land and money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
The court said that Klein’s illness and volatile behavior posed significant and time-consuming challenges for Laing and Railsback, who helped relocate Klein to residential care facilities in California, Colorado and Connecticut. When Klein lived on his own, he had trouble with crime, relationships and money management.
 
Klein, now 63 and living independently in Iowa, admitted that the men were very helpful over the years, even if they were tight-fisted.
 
The court credited Laing and Railsback for assisting Klein in the absence of relatives but found the two ultimately took advantage of the relationship through indefensible charges.
 
Full Article and Source:
Court: Iowa lawyers overbilled ill Vietnam veteran

Linda Kincaid Reports: California Assembly Judiciary Committee vote to curb elder abuse by conservators

June 17, 2013

San Francisco’s ABC7 I-Team investigated elder abuse by the Santa Clara County Public Guardian. See Public guardian under fire for isolating elderly.

AB937 aims to curb those abuses. See I-Team investigation gets woman more visits, law proposed.
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all persons have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, some conservators routinely violate that “inalienable right” that was so clearly penned by Thomas Jefferson.

  • In Stanislaus County, June Guinn has not seen her family since 2008. The conservator will not disclose June’s location. Family fears that June is dead.
  • In Sacramento County, David Fettgather, a young man with Down syndrome, is allowed to see his father only on alternate weekends.
  • In San Joaquin County, the Public Guardian isolated Maria Jordanou from her family for the last month of her life. Maria died believing her family abandoned her.
  • In Los Angeles County, Helen Kasof was allowed only limited visitation with her son for 15 months.
  • In Santa Clara County, the Public Guardian isolated Gisela Riordan and Lillie Scalia beginning in 2010. Gisela was allowed no visitors, phone calls, or mail for over two years. Lillie was isolated for a year.
  • In San Bernardino County, Jean Swope was taken from her home, hidden from family, and isolated for 15 months. The conservator allowed no visitation and severely restricted phone calls.

Full Article and Source:
California Assembly Judiciary Committee vote to curb elder abuse by conservators

See Also:
Linda Kincaid Reports: Elder Abuse of June Guinn by Modesto, California Conservator

 ‘David Fettgather: Dependent Adult Abused by Californial Conservator’

 Linda Kincaid Reports: Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse: Public Guardian Takes Control of Gisela Riordan

 Linda Kincaid Reports: Isolation and False Police Report in CA Facility

Yucaipa woman, 101, battling for home over handwritten deed

March 19, 2013

YUCAIPA – Lois Risse, 101, stands hunched over in her front yard, attacking weeds and dandelions with a hoe.

Then she bends at the waist, picks up the plants and places them in a cardboard box beside her metal walker. As she progresses west across the yard, she hooks the box with the garden tool and pulls it closer to her, straying farther and farther from her walker.

The only help she allows from her caregiver is emptying the contents of the box into a garbage bin, and bringing her walker over when it is time to go inside – into a house she no longer owns.

Risse, her neighbors and legal representatives say many people have taken advantage of the petite woman with bright blue eyes since the passing of her husband, William Risse, on Sept. 18, 1982.

“It’s hard to believe there are such thieves,” Risse said.

In January 1983, four months after her husband died, Risse sold the couple’s ranch-style home in southeast Yucaipa via a handwritten deed. Cursive writing chronicles the sale: $60,000 for the home and $4,500 for its contents to a family friend, Glenn Neff.

Two years later, in January 1985, another paragraph was added to the deed. It said Neff paid in full with ownership to be recorded upon Risse’s death. It was signed again by Risse and Neff on Jan. 1, 1985, then notarized on March 29, 1985.

Neither party can produce receipts of payment.

“He never paid me a dime,” Risse said Thursday while sitting on a backless chair inside the home.

Neff had been friends with William and Lois Risse since the 1960s. Now 72, he lives nearly 400 miles from Risse in Walker, southeast of Lake Tahoe.

Risse gave him two years to pay off the house, he said in a phone interview.

“When I bought the house from Lois, I would pay her cash,” Neff said. “She kept track of everything. I just sold a piece of property so I could have paid her (in full). I paid her something each month until it was paid off in two years.”

He also said he orally agreed to let Risse remain in the Yucaipa home until her death, as long as she paid the taxes, utilities and insurance.

“I told Lois – and it’s not on paper – but I told Lois she could live in that house as long as she wanted,” Neff said.

On Wednesday night, Neff said he still plans to continue to stick to that statement, even though he broke an agreement written in the deed not to record it until after her death.

Full Article & Source:
Yucaipa woman, 101, battling for home over handwritten deed