Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Editorials from around Pennsylvania: Focus on Guardians Paramount

October 21, 2013

The issue of guardianships for the elderly and disabled gets lost amid the major issues of the day.

But the guardianship issue is not one to be regarded lightly, and it will become more significant as baby boomers continue to age.
That’s why Blair County court officials’ move to beef up the monitoring of such arrangements comes at a good time. The initiative must not become lost among other pressing county business.
Still, it was disconcerting to hear county officials admit that the current monitoring of such arrangements here leaves something to be desired. As reported in an article in the Oct. 6 Mirror, Blair County Prothonotary Carol Newman, in whose office guardianships are filed, described the local monitoring as “hit and miss.”
According to Newman, no organized process for tracking the county’s guardianship cases is in place. Thus, there could be instances where required annual reports have not been filed on time or at all, making it impossible to monitor what is happening in those cases.
That raises the question of whether there ever is comprehensive review of many of those reports that are received.

Again, the growth of the elderly population makes it imperative that the guardianship issue gets much more attention than it has received in the past. Meanwhile, the existing situation is an embarrassment for a county that usually prides itself on doing things right.

Full Article and Source:
Editorials From Around Pennsylvania

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Nevada Guardian Patience Bristol Arraigned on Robbery Charges

October 15, 2013

Sources report Patience Bristol has been arraigned in Las Vegas on charges of stealing over $200,000 of cash and jewelry, as well as other possessions, from her wards. Patience Bristol was brought in as a social worker in 2003 by Jared Shafer, at his company Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada until last January,when he fired Bristol. Bristol also worked with Keep You Company, an agency which dispatched caregivers, where Shafer was on the board of directors. A witness close to Bristol reports she was taught to rip off the elderly by former public guardian Jared Shafer. Shafer was Clark County Public Guardian for 23 years prior to going into private practice ten years ago. Patience is the only member of the company to be charged, currently, and she is charged with 20 counts so far, although there appears to be a bigger story behind this.

Since 2005 many reports have been made from outraged family members who claim that Patience Bristol and Jared Shafer allegedly ripped off, what is now totaling, millions of dollars from their elderly family members.  At first victim’s families turn to the local authorities only to hear that the police can not do anything for them, as it is a civil matter. Many then have tried to take civil action over the matters but have not returned any results.  Others who have suffered losses at the hands of Bristol and Shafer state that they did not complain against the two due to threats made against them by Shafer and Bristol.

Bristol reportedly been making their way into the homes of many elderly individuals and convincing them that they need a guardian to keep them company. Many have also invited them to be guardians to family members. Whether invited into the home or provoked in, one thing is clear: when Shafer and Bristol enters the individual’s homes they are left with nothing.

In total 66 reports have been made on ripoffreport.com against Patience Bristol and 84 reports have been made so far against Jared Shafer. The company which started in Las Vegas have now have complaints from families of elderly citizens in Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, California, and Washington.

One man made a report on ripoffreport.com claiming that the uncle was assigned by family court to Bristol upon falling ill.  He claims that Bristol isolated his uncle from outside visitors, changed his will to show that she and her son were beneficiaries, and stole many of his possessions, including his car.  It is also claimed that she engaged in questionable sexual acts with a sixteen year who was the daughter of the man that made the report.

But these crimes are not the only that Bristol has allegedly been involved in. A source also claims that she has administered illegal drugs to the elderly, taken over their trust funds, and used their money to fight their families in court if their loved ones take action. Some of the same claims have been made on Jared Shafer.

Full Article and Source:
Nevada Guardian Patience Bristol Arraigned on Robbery Charges

Assisted Suicide and the Affordable Care Act

July 23, 2013

The controversy over federally endorsed abortion and its hidden surcharges has been well documented in conservative media. But there hasn’t been much coverage of late about the legislation’s  support for physician-assisted suicide.

Currently, only four states in the country legally allow assisted suicide. Vermont, Washington, and Oregon have unrestricted laws, meaning that the administration of life ending drugs is up to the discretion of the patient and his doctor (also it’s covered by insurance). In Montana, assisted suicide is legal through a court order. In the other 46 states, the practice is illegal and has been for most of the last century.

Section 1553

The piece of legislation in question is Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act, which reads as follows:

(a) In General – The Federal Government, and any State or local government or health care provider that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act) or any health plan created under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act), may not subject an individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the entity does not provide any health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or for the purpose of assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.

To break it down, if a terminally ill patient requests that his doctor help him end his life, and the doctor refuses for moral reasons or whatever the case may be, that doctor is protected by federal law against discrimination. This can be a saving grace for doctors who may subsequently be targeted by insurance companies because of their refusal to help patients end their lives.

Full Article and Source:
Obamacare’s covert support of assisted suicide

Bryan Rosen: Conservatorships in Santa Barbara

July 6, 2013

We can’t even grow older anymore and live in dignity.  Too many older persons are put under conservatorship, and have their human rights stripped away.  Great concern is expressed for their welfare, particularly when they happen to have money.

I know a man named Jack (changed for privacy reasons).  Five years ago, he was put under conservatorship because he was a binge drinker.  A professional conservator was hired. It was conservatorship of the estate – in other words – the money that was established. No conservatorship of the person was created.   
He was given medications by his doctor, some for dementia, others to pacify him.  He refused to take them, which is his right.  (He has a history of being anti-drug, except for alcohol.)  Were his wishes honored?  No.  Since he wouldn’t take the drugs, they’ve been put in his food.  Some are antipsychotic medications like Saroquel….
~Bryan Rosen

Editorial: Not Enough Protection for Elders

June 14, 2013

June 14 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Financial exploitation of elders is becoming the primary form of elder abuse, often involving family members or even close elderly friends who prey on seniors to gain control of assets. The elder need not have dementia to be victimized. These predators take advantage of physical disabilities — vision, hearing, mobility — to gain an elder’s trust and isolate the elder, to control communication, transportation, medical care and to access mail and credit cards, bank accounts and investments.

Legal mechanisms like power of attorney (POA), guardianship/conservatorship or healthcare proxy (HCP) can be obtained through misrepresentation, coercion, isolation and intimidation of an elder. The abuser then can use the victim’s assets to fight those trying to stop the exploitation.

Another form of abuse is “granny snatching”; an elder is taken out of state under false pretenses (a vacation?) to a perpetrator’s turf, isolated from the elder’s friends, family and familiar medical care. Once there, new legal and financial oversight (guardian, conservator, POA) is obtained. The elder rarely returns.

Full Editorial and Source:
Not Enough Protection for Elders

Editorial: Judge Should Let Public Guardian Go

May 18, 2013

We are glad to know that Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy’s report to the Metro Council last month on the work of Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart was only a preliminary finding.

That’s because there seems to be something missing from the report: that it’s time for a new Davidson County public guardian.

Kennedy still is reviewing Stuart’s active cases, but he told the council he had so far found no discrepancies. Perhaps he needs a better reading lamp.

Stuart has, for the past five years, been billing clients at the lawyer-fee rate of $200-$225 per hour for countless tasks that have nothing to do with legal expertise, often in six-minute increments, and sometimes multiple times in a day. Stuart says this is standard procedure. Billing for legal work in six-minute increments is; nonlegal, no, say legal experts. A review of Stuart’s bills since 2008 shows she charged her clients for six minutes 13,290 times, totaling more than $270,000 in fees. The tasks included such things as listening to a voice mail.

Experts have explained that lawyers typically have clerks or paralegals do these tasks — or, the lawyer bills for these tasks at a lower rate even if handling the voice mail themselves.

Is Judge Kennedy simply going to accept Stuart’s version of what is routine, in the face of all the accounts to the contrary?

Full Editorial and Source:
Judge Should Let Public Guardian Go

See Also:
Ginger Franklin’s Car Towed and Sold While in Conservator, Jeanan Mills Stuart’s, ‘Care’

Editorial: NEED FOR OVERSIGHT IN CONSERVATORSHIP SYSTEM

March 29, 2013

When my mother, Patricia C. Rosen, was put under conservatorship, I discovered the need for reform and public oversight.

For example, she was said to have dementia by professional conservators, attorneys and others profiting off her estate. The neuropsychological evaluator my mom hired by saving her scant allowance, as well as her doctor of 25 years, both found her competent but were ignored. Then the professional conservator resigned due to my “interference”, and my mom was placed in the hands of the Public Guardian, Harry Hagan, whose office found her to be competent.  The Public Guardian needed its funds for those truly in need, so terminated the conservatorship that had been going on for over five years.  Unlike the profit-making network, there was no incentive to keep her under conservatorship. Conservatorship is a huge cash cow. Is there a conflict of interest here?

Also, conservators are supposed to justify their fees to the court.

In my mother’s case, when the conservator resigned, there never was a final accounting submitted to the court. $83,000 of my mother’s money was used up with absolutely no court oversight. I had wanted to contest many of the fees, as I felt the conservator had done wrongdoing, but was deprived of my right to do so. The judge at the time didn’t try to stop this transgression of due process; in fact, he, along with the attorneys profiting off the estate, signed a court order allowing the conservator to be paid with no explanation to the court. Many other older persons are having their rights violated in this court system.  Oversight is important, the public needs to be watching.  One can help elders by being a watchdog and attending the probate court in Dept. 5 of the old courthouse building Thursdays at 9 am. Trouble is one can’t hear what’s going on at these “public” hearings. Other courtrooms have microphones. At a recent hearing a man in the audience informed Judge Stern that the public couldn’t hear, but was completely ignored. I don’t think the profit-making network wants us to know what’s going on.

To find out more about how elders are abused by conservators go to the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA) website at stopguardianabuse.org

~Bryan Rosen, Monticeto

Source:
Need for Oversight in Conservatorships

Editorial: Too Quiet in the Court

March 6, 2013

When is a public hearing not a hearing? When you can’t hear what’s going on, what’s the point of having a court hearing open to the public?

In probate court, the speakers are often so quiet you don’t have a clue what’s happening. In this court, many-a-fate of an older person is decided. Many elders are put under conservatorship, and lose their rights and freedom. Persons under conservatorship should have the right to be videotaped in this court.

An example of corruption was when my mother was placed under conservatorship – hundreds of thousands of dollars of her estate went to pay the fees of a profit-seeking network.

Family disunity was exploited. The court-approved evaluators said she had dementia – one said “likely of the Alzheimer’s type.” My mother’s choice of evaluator, a highly qualified neuropsychologist, Dr. Cheryll Smith of Montecito, and her doctor of 25 years, found her competent but this was ignored by the court. She was even given heavy-duty dementia medications, which she refused to take. When the second professional conservator resigned due to my “interference,” my mom was placed in the hands of the Public Guardian, who found her to be competent. The Public Guardian, who had no incentive to portray her in a negative light and plunder her estate, petitioned for the conservatorship to end.

Full Article & Source:
Too Quiet in the Court

LETTER: State physician-assisted-suicide law dangerous

February 7, 2013

Our state government is considering a bill (S.B. No. 48) to make physician-assisted suicide legal.

This bill, introduced by Sen. Edward Meyer, is a dangerous precedent of the codification of state sanctioned euthanasia. Albeit it is self-inflicted, it is euthanasia nonetheless.

To give this power to the government is to surrender an inalienable right that should only be held by the individual.

I do not claim that those suffering from a painful and incurable disease should not be allowed the dignity of a peaceful and painless passing. However, I do deny the need of our state government, or any government, to make such a law. Such issues of life and of death are the sole purview of the individual.

Many people are weary of the “slippery slope” argument because of its misuse in the debates on gay marriage. But, if this bill is passed then we would be taking that first step toward state sanctioned euthanasia.

Sure, one could argue that cooler heads would prevail and that the brakes would firmly be applied before we hit such a grotesque landmark.

However, consider Belgium, which is now considering an expansion of a physician-assisted suicide law to include the mentally impaired and children. Belgium, a post-industrial, modern society, secular and liberal, entertains the idea that it would be acceptable to make the most vulnerable members of their society candidates for euthanasia.

Full Article & Source:
LETTER: State physician-assisted-suicide law dangerous

Editorial: Exposing Guardian Devils – NJ Supreme Tightens Watch of Guardians

February 5, 2013

Too many times the courts have entrusted the well-being of dependent individuals to guardians who promise protection, then steadily swindle them for the rest of their lives.

These guardians come with the highest credentials — attorneys, professionals and, in one Ocean County case, a minister who was also a licensed social worker. With nothing in their reputations or resumes to suggest they are other than upstanding citizens, these scoundrels gain control of the bank accounts and legal affairs of their wards.

Soon, however, the guardians will have guards watching for signs of this most despicable crime.

Last week, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner Announced that teams of volunteer watchdogs  will monitor the legal guardians for tens of thousands disabled and elderly people. They’ll be on the lookout for theft or abuse of power.

The Volunteer Guardianship Monitoring Program will train people to scan the annual expense reports all legal guardians are required to file with the county and look for any “red flags” that suggest possible mismanagement, as The Star-Ledger’s Susan Livio reported last week.

While the vast majority of court-appointed guardians are caring and responsible, the audacity of those who prey on the powerless is breathtaking. An Ocean County lawyer, for instance, stole millions from his physically and mentally handicapped clients who had no heirs or next of kin.

For each high-profile case, there could be hundreds of other smaller swindles.

The innovative statewide program, set to launch soon in Mercer, includes a database that will facilitate tracking and investigation. The most important resource, however, will be the volunteers.

It is, as the chief justice says, a noble aim to shield those depending on guardians from larceny.

A federal measure in the works would complement New Jersey’s vigilance on legal guardians. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is calling for better screening of the 5.6 million representative payees who annually handle $61 billion in Social Security payments for 7.6 million beneficiaries.

The push stems from a Philadelphia case in which a woman allegedly kept disabled captives drugged and wounded in a filthy basement after tricking them into signing over their benefits to her. She was able to collect those checks even though she’d served time for starving a man to death.

During a five-state test of Casey’s measure, dozens of people convicted of fraud and violence were prevented from becoming the managers of another individual’s Social Security payments.

Implemented on a national level, this safeguard would work in tandem with the guardian-monitoring program to protect some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents.

Source:
Editorial:  Exposing Guardian Devils – NJ Supreme Court Tightens Watch of Guardians

See Also:
Good News for New Jersey: Guardianships Get a Safety Net