Archive for the ‘court appointed guardian’ Category

Victim in guardianship theft struggles to rebound

October 15, 2013

When Kristina Berger’s mom died of leukemia in the fall of 2008, her already fragile world crumbled.

But the nightmare had only begun for Berger, one of four people who police say were victimized by Patience Bristol, a court-appointed, private guardian accused of stealing nearly $200,000 worth of money and jewelry from her wards.

Las Vegas police arrested Bristol, 38, on Oct. 7. She faces 15 charges in the case, according to police reports.

Berger, 50, suffers from bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, a brain disorder that causes severe shifts in mood. From 2001 until fall 2008, she was under the guardianship of her mother, Margaret Maul.

“I was just in total grief and meltdown,” Berger said of her state following her mother’s death.

She lost control of her life. She struggled with diabetes after her weight shot up to nearly 300 pounds.
After her mother died, Family Court appointed a private guardian for Berger to oversee her financial and personal affairs. The court appointed Bristol, who at the time was employed by Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada.

“After a year in their care, I was absolutely petrified,” Berger said Thursday.

Bristol tried to convince her that her father, who lives in Seattle, didn’t care about her, and that her sister was trying to steal from her, Berger said.

According to police, Bristol stole at least $47,000 worth of jewelry from Berger’s estate and sold much of it at pawn shops.

Bristol faces three counts of obtaining money under false pretenses and four counts of exploitation of a vulnerable person. She also was charged with eight counts of burglary in connection to the selling of stolen goods, according to police reports.

Full Article and Source:
Victim in guardianship theft struggles to rebound

Advertisements

Court-Appointed Guardian Arrested for Stealing

October 15, 2013

8 News NOW

LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas woman was arrested on 15 counts for taking money from the people she was supposed to be helping in her role as a private guardian.

According to Metro Police, Patience Bristol took thousands of dollars from the accounts of elderly and vulnerable people that a family court judge had appointed her guardian of, and used the money to pay for personal expenses.

In the arrest report, Bristol admitted to officers that she took cash out of the accounts, she set up for her wards, to pay for her mortgage, utility and credit card bills and food for her family, because she had a gambling problem.

She also admitted to police that she gave money to her boyfriend, who is unemployed.

The charges include exploitation of elderly because two of the people she is accused of taking money from were more than 60 years old. In that case, police say she took more $100,000 from that victim.

She is also charged with burglary. According to police, Bristol went to Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, a guardianship business where the valuables belonging to two wards were stored, took some jewelry and pawned it. Police say she pawned more than 67 items at nine different pawn stores around southern Nevada.

Her preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 23 at 8 a.m.

Full Article and Source:
Court-Appointed Guardian Arrested for Stealing

Grabbing the Purse

September 5, 2013

Dorothy Luck was enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of hard work: a well-cared-for house, a good-running Cadillac Deville, a million dollars in a bank account, another million in annuities, and a monthly income from investments and Social Security. A widow with no children or close relatives, she remains active and relatively healthy at 85.

Her comfortable lifestyle was made possible by various investments created with her husband, Leskie, who died 20 years ago. The couple co-owned and operated Luck Field, a general aviation airport that opened in 1960 in South Fort Worth, offering a landing strip and hangar rentals for 40 years, until it closed in 2000.

Shyness isn’t a problem. Luck dominates conversations, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and can be a pistol when riled. She’s also softhearted. Her church gets 10 percent of every dollar, and Luck gives additional money to charities and friends in need.

The neat and still-elegant woman has always kept a close watch on her finances, and she believed she’d have plenty of money to last until the end of her life.

“I was very wealthy,” she said. “Now they’ve stripped me of about everything I have.”

The people stripping away her wealth aren’t con artists, muggers, or thieves, although the end result looks the same. “They” are a judge and court-appointed lawyers involved in a probate system that deemed Luck to be mentally incapaci-tated and unable to handle her affairs.

Two years ago they took control of her money and her life. She’s been writhing in the court system ever since, trying to regain control of her bank account, which has become at least $500,000 lighter since the court took over.

“I’ve worked since I was 15 years old, and I don’t deserve this,” Luck said. “It’s going to kill me. It’s aged me terribly.”

Texas, unlike most states, allows its judges to initiate guardianship cases. If a defendant in a civil lawsuit refuses to settle, a Texas probate judge can say, “I think you’re mentally incapacitated.” Then that same judge can remove the defendant’s right to hire an independent attorney and use court-appointed attorneys to settle the case in a closed hearing without the defendant’s input.

Don’t believe it?

Luck wouldn’t have believed it either. Until it happened to her.

Full Article and Source:
Grabbing the Purse

Need a guardian? If you don’t pick one, court will for you

August 21, 2013

Having someone you trust to make decisions for you when you can’t is a good idea, if you don’t want a stranger doing it, that is.

In Illinois, if you are “not decisional” as the lawyers say, and you haven’t chosen someone to act on your behalf when you’re in that state, a judge will appoint a guardian for you.

In Champaign County, John Brown of Savoy is the county public guardian for those who have no one else to do the job. In Vermilion County, Matt Myrick of Oakwood holds that position.

“Having a decision-maker that you trust, that you have the opportunity to talk to about how you want medical decisions made before that emergency occurs is really important,” said Champaign attorney Deb Feinen, whose office specializes in petitioning for guardianships.

“Assuming that you don’t revoke your power-of-attorney, that person is able to make all the decisions and you don’t have to go to court and get a guardianship,” she said.

Champaign County Judge Holly Clemons, who handles most of the requests for guardianships, said typically the requests come from a family member who has no power to act because the affected loved one hasn’t executed a power-of-attorney.

Full Article and Source:
Need a guardian? If you don’t pick one, court will for you

"I Made a Small Change"

July 31, 2013

Tara Wilson

Attorney Tara Wilson of Andover, MA, had many of her own estate planning documents in order. But after her grandmother fell ill at 84 and her relatives disagreed on her care, the court appointed a stranger as guardian, overruling her grandmother’s wishes.

“The guardian kept her from her loved ones, put a reverse mortgage on her house, moved her to a nursing home and squandered her savings. From all this I learned that I needed to name a second and third choice for healthcare proxy and power of attorney, and add a provision to my will that the court is not to appoint anyone else to represent the interests of my children. And I keep my will up to date.”

Full Article and Source:
“I Made a Small Change”