Archive for the ‘guardianship’ Category

NYS Cuts Red Tape, Saves $$ for Guardians Who Care for Loved Ones in Other States

October 25, 2013

— /PRNewswire/ — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law an AARP-backed bill that will cut red tape and save money for guardians by simplifying the process for exercising their rights when their loved ones live in another state.

The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (S2534/A857) will eliminate costly and time-consuming red tape for guardians in exercising health care, financial and other legal responsibilities for elderly parents or other loved ones who live out of state.

Read more here:

Under current law, guardians who live in New York must often hire lawyers to help them navigate other states’ court systems to receive approval to exercise their responsibilities – after they’ve already obtained such legal orders in New York.

The New York law is part of AARP’s national fight to focus on care, not courts, by removing the barriers that prevent caregivers from providing for their loved ones, regardless of where the loved ones live. New York becomes the most populous state with the law in place, joining 36 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

“Forcing caregivers to spend time in lengthy and expensive court proceedings that drain family resources undermines their ability to provide care for their loves ones,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York.  “Governor Cuomo has taken an important step toward cutting red tape for New Yorkers who care for loved ones in more than two thirds of other states, which already have this law on the books. AARP hopes the momentum will push the final states to join and create uniformity and reciprocity across the nation.”

Read more here:

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NYS Cuts Red Tape, Saves $$ for Guardians Who Care for Loved Ones in Other States

Guardianship: Time for Accountability

October 13, 2013

Guardianship abuse seems to be one of the most profitable scams of the day!  Are you safe from it?  Not necessarily.

Professional guardians, and professionals who become guardians, in some states, can isolate the ward (even from family and friends), bill outrageous amounts, sell houses and other property, take over bank accounts and make the ward’s life absolutely miserable as they do.  Don’t believe it?  Neither did many others, until it happened to them.

The public is led to believe they have the right to pick the person they wish to make decisions for them, should they become unable to do so or need some help.  However, in Florida, it appears, judges are allowed to ignore the person’s wishes and place him or her under the care of a professional guardian.  Once that appointment has been made, the family can be completely excluded from the ward’s life.  Worse, if there can be a worse, the ward is completely at the mercy of the guardian for better or for worse.

A guardian should be someone who is looking out for the best interest of the ward — not the ward being a money-making product to be billed to pennilessness.

When a guardian has already been chosen by the person, the courts should not be allowed to ignore that wish and appoint a professional guardian, unless there are some serious extenuating circumstances.

In my opinion, one of the first signs something is terribly wrong with a guardian situation is when the ward is isolated from family and friends.  This action alone suggests there is something to hide.  If not, then why would a guardian worry about the ward associating with all the people that had meant so much to him or her?

People who don’t understand the harm isolation can do, should spend a couple of months alone in a room with no stimulation and the only human contact (and brief words exchanged) being when someone brings a meal and picks up the tray.  That experiment will give you a taste of what many under guardianship go through and what you may one day be looking forward to, if the laws are not changed.

The courts should not have the right to over-ride a person’s wishes, without true cause to do so.  This is a person’s life after all.  And family members and friends should be considered for guardianship prior to any professional being thought of.

Professional guardians should be held to the strictest of standards and there should be no immunity for them not also given to a family member or friend acting in the same capacity.

Guardians should not be allowed to create bills and then sell off the ward’s home and possessions to make payment, as easily as it seems it can be done in many jurisdictions.

Wards should not lose the right to fight for their freedom from guardianship, especially if it is a wrongful one.  As it is, if the guardian has all the say — the ward can be silenced and kept from fighting against an abuse guardianship situation.  How is that right?  Doesn’t that defeat the very purpose of guardianship?

Full Article and Source:
Guardianship: Time for Accountability

Candidate was taken off guardianship cases 10 times

October 8, 2013

Gretchen DeBacker, the Democratic candidate for Toledo Municipal Court judge, was removed from 10 guardianship cases between 2006 and 2011 for failing to file mandatory reports on time.

In all 10 cases, Ms. DeBacker had been hired to represent a person who had been judged incompetent to look out for their own affairs, and her main duty to Probate Court as guardian was to file an annual inventory and two reports with Lucas County Probate Court on her ward’s status.

According to Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger, guardianship cases are handled by magistrates. He said in the majority of cases in which guardians are removed the reason is failure to file documents on time.

Ms. DeBacker is running in the nonpartisan general election Nov. 5 against Republicans Joshua Lanzinger and Kenneth Phillips. The seat is now held by Mr. Lanzinger who was appointed to the vacancy by Gov. John Kasich on Sept. 11 and sworn in as judge two days later. The vacancy was created when former Municipal Judge Michael Goulding was appointed to a vacancy on Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Ms. DeBacker acknowledged that she was removed from the cases.

“It wasn’t anything to hurt the clients. It was simply my failure to show the status of my work to the court. Probate Court is not my regular or main area of practice. It’s not an excuse it’s simply an explanation,” Ms. DeBacker said.

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Candidate was taken off guardianship cases 10 times

Judge sides with hospital that forced chemotherapy for Amish girl with leukemia

September 3, 2013

An appeals court has sided with a hospital that wants to force a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.

The court ruled that a county judge must reconsider his decision that blocked Akron Children’s Hospital’s attempt to give an attorney who’s also a registered nurse limited guardianship over Sarah Hershberger and the power to make medical decisions for her.

The hospital believes Sarah’s leukemia is very treatable but says she will die without chemotherapy.
The judge in Medina County in northeast Ohio had ruled in July that Sarah’s parents had the right to make medical decisions for her.

The appeals court ruling issued Tuesday said the judge failed to consider whether appointing a guardian would be in the girl’s best interest. It also disagreed with the judge’s decision that said he could only transfer guardianship if the parents were found unfit.

The family’s attorney, John Oberholtzer, said Wednesday that the ruling essentially ordered the judge to disregard the rights of the parents.

Andy Hershberger, the girl’s father, said the family agreed to begin two years of treatments for Sarah last spring but stopped a second round of chemotherapy in June because it was making her extremely sick.

“It put her down for two days. She was not like her normal self,” he said. “We just thought we cannot do this to her.”

Sarah begged her parents to stop the chemotherapy and they agreed after a great deal of prayer, Hershberger said. The family, members of an insular Amish community, shuns many facets of modern life and is deeply religious.

“Our belief is, to a certain extent, we can use modern medicine, but at some times we have to stop it and do something else,” Hershberger said in a telephone interview.

They opted to consult with a wellness center and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins, and see another doctor who is monitoring their daughter, Hershberger said.

“We see her every day. We watch her really close,” her father said. “She runs, plays. She crawls up ladders. She’s got a lot of energy, more than she had when she was doing chemo.”

Hershberger said they have not ruled out returning to Akron Children’s Hospital if Sarah’s health worsens. “We told them if it gets to the point that we cannot do anything for her, we would come back,” he said.

After the appeals court decision, the hospital said in a statement Wednesday that its goal is to ensure that the girl receives the most appropriate care based on scientific evidence and added that the allegation has never been about “parental unfitness.”

 Full Article and Source:
Judge sides with hospital that forced chemotherapy for Amish girl with leukemia

See Also:
Ohio hospital wants to force Amish girl’s cancer treatment after parents stop chemotherapy

What You Should Know about Guardianships

September 3, 2013

When a person can no longer make financial or health decisions, a guardian may be appointed to fulfill these duties—but this position comes with great responsibility.

Often times, a person is appointed guardian to decide on financial and personal matters for someone who is unable to make such decisions—whether it’s old age or a disability. A family member or person of interest can petition the court to be named the guardian.

“You don’t plan to have a guardian,” says Randy Kessler, founding partner of Kessler & Solomiany.
“Depending on the terms of the guardian order—it’s like a power of attorney—the broadest would be every decision including medical decisions but the more common ones are financial,” says Kessler. In some states, “conservatorships” refer to having the authority to make financial decisions for a person, while the term “guardianship” generally refers to both financial and medical decisions.

“If someone’s in mental duress, a civil court could appoint a guardian when there’s financial decisions involved,” says Kessler. It’s a guardian’s job to make the best decisions on behalf of the other person, also called the ward.

If you’re seeking a guardianship over someone, experts suggest considering the time commitment. “It’s literally almost a tethering of the guardian to the ward,” says Robert Meyring, family law and estate planning attorney in Atlanta. “They take on handling everything and reporting back to the courts to the extent required.”

Before looking to take on this responsibility, experts provide the following information and tips to help maneuver through the process:

What’s the guardianship process?

Guardianships are a court-appointed process that can take four to eight weeks and can get ugly. And even though guardians are paid, the costs to establish the guardianship and time commitment can be high.

“It is a huge difference in cost with [estate] planning versus if you didn’t plan and [a guardianship] was imposed upon you later on,” says Randy Michel, family law and estate planning attorney in College Station, Texas. “The difference can be a few hundred dollars [for an estate plan] versus tens of thousands of dollars [for a guardianship], easy.” If a guardianship is contested, the costs can spiral out of control.

“If you’re appointed guardian, you can use the person’s money to pay legal fees,” says Michel. “If you lose, you’re going to pay out of your own pocket.”

Having an estate plan can take care of any situation that may occur prior to death. “In more than 50% of the time, someone will suffer incapacity before they pass away,” says Meyring.

How are Wards Protected?

The person you are seeking guardianship over will be made aware of your intentions.

“The person who wants to become a guardian needs to understand the person will be served with papers that they’re incapacitated and they may be mad about that,” says Michel. This safeguard protects people from losing control over their lives if they are still competent to handle their health and financial decisions.

“In certain states, if you owe this person money, you’re not qualified to be guardian,” he adds.

A psychologist typically reports on the person’s mental health to decide if a guardian is needed. “The person can give testimony in court in opposition to the guardianship. If they have a very lucid moment, it could complicate matters,” says Michel.

The court appoints an attorney to represent the person in question’s best interest, whether the guardianship has merit and the fitness of both people. “It’s really the lawyer’s duty to make sure that the person seeking the guardianship follows the law,” says Michel.

Full Article and Source:
What You Should Know about Guardianships

Former Upper Arlington Attorney Charged For Allegedly Forging Guardianship Documents, Stealing From Retirement Fund

August 28, 2013

A former attorney is charged with theft, forgery, tampering with records and money laundering.

According to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, Lindsey T. Burt, 33, was indicted Tuesday in connection with stealing from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

The prosecutor’s office said that Burt was supposed to file paperwork for a client which would make the client the guardian of his son after the mother passed away.

Burt allegedly altered documents, making it that she was the guardian, and then she allegedly sent paperwork to OPERS to collect death benefits intended for the child.

The alleged theft from OPERS was during a five-year period and totaled $67,183.03.

Full Article and Source:
Former Upper Arlington Attorney Charged For Allegedly Forging Guardianship Documents, Stealing From Retirement Fund

Ohio hospital wants to force Amish girl’s cancer treatment after parents stop chemotherapy

August 28, 2013

An Ohio hospital is fighting to force a 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.

Akron Children’s Hospital is appealing a judge’s decision that blocked an attorney who’s also a registered nurse from taking over limited guardianship and making medical decisions for the girl.

The hospital believes the girl will die without chemotherapy and is morally and legally obligated to make sure she receives proper care, said Robert McGregor, the hospital’s chief medical officer.

“We really have to advocate for what we believe is in the best interest of the child,” he said Friday.

The parents initially allowed chemotherapy treatment in May but stopped treatment in June. The parents said the effects on their daughter were horrible and that they were now relying on natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins, The Medina Gazette reported.

The girl told a probate and juvenile judge that she didn’t want chemotherapy because it made feel ill, can damage her organs and make her infertile, the newspaper said.

Full Article and Source:
Ohio hospital wants to force Amish girl’s cancer treatment after parents stop chemotherapy


August 22, 2013
Last month, July 2013, one of our precious Survivors heard a knock on her door and was surprised to find a stranger who wanted to ask her many questions.  She had thought that he was an administrator from her Sarasota housing complex, but he turned out to be a psychiatrist who was surreptitiously conducting an examination of her in order to put her into emergency temporary guardianship, which did occur just a few days later (without notification to her closest family members).  
As many of you know, my own Father, Al Katz, a Holocaust Survivor, was likewise put into emergency temporary guardianship here without any notification sent to me as his next-of-kin, which notification is required by law.  My Father’s emergency temporary guardianship was court ordered on Erev Rosh Hashonah 2009.  
Today, another Holocaust Survivor would have been similarly forced into permanent Florida State guardianship shortly before Rosh Hashonah; however, Jews from across the United States worked for many days to prevent this unnecessary confinement of a Survivor, separation from her beloved family members, and isolation from the Jewish community.
The attorney that was appointed by the court to represent the Survivor was the same attorney that was responsible for my Father’s placement into the Baker Act illegally for three weeks without any court hearing, his lockdown for three additional weeks in an abusive nursing home, and his inability to come home from the nursing home, which traumas and medical neglect nearly cost my Father his life.
I urge you to be very careful when you encounter anyone or any experiences that could pose a risk to you in terms of elder abuse or exploitation.  In today’s case, the Survivor lives in a luxury housing complex and has very significant assets.  Once a person is forced into guardianship, all of his or her assets are under the control of someone appointed by the court, who may not have any relationship with the Ward at all, in other words, a total stranger.  The results to the person and property (asset seizure) of the Ward can be disastrous.  I ask you to begin this Rosh Hashonah safely and please feel free to contact The Al Katz Center any time you are faced with a troubling situation in which we can assist you.  
At The Al Katz Center, Survivors are treasures, the backbone of the Jewish people, to whom we all owe an inestimable debt of gratitude for their extreme sacrifices.  The Al Katz Center is a refuge and resource for Jews young and old, observant and non-.  
L’Shana Tova,
Beverly Newman, Ed.D.
The Al Katz Center
713 South Orange Avenue
Sarasota, Florida  34236
(941) 313-9239

Every grown-up should get chance to make own decisions

August 21, 2013

Aging baby boomers, look out, because the case I am going to talk about might have an impact on your life one day, too.

This is a case about freedom, personal decisions and whether someone who is deemed less bright than Einstein has the right to make those personal decisions themselves.

All of us who have been parents understand to some degree the lawsuit involving guardianship decided last week by Circuit Court Judge David F. Pugh in Newport News, Va.  We think we know what is best for our children — even when they aren’t children anymore.

Maybe you have even experienced the same dilemma with an aging parent.  You are concerned for their safety, their well-being, and you know what is best for them.

Jenny Hatch is 29.  When she was in a bicycle accident, her friends Jim Talbert and Kelly Morris, who came to know Jenny when they hired her to work in their thrift store,  took her in.  The three formed a sort of family.

But Jenny’s mother and stepfather, Julia and Richard Ross, weren’t happy with the arrangement.  Believing they knew what was best for Jenny, they sought legal guardianship so they could make decisions for her.

If Jenny didn’t have a disability, no court would have taken such an idea seriously.  But she does have a disability — and that made all the difference.

Jenny Hatch has Down syndrome.  She is described as vibrant, loving and, let’s not forget, 29 years old.

Her parents believe she should live in a group home and managed to place her in several of them over the past year while the case was pending.

Each time, she ran away, back to her friends Talbert and Morris, who wanted her to live with them, and with whom she wanted to live.

The case, which took a year to resolve and attracted disability-rights leaders from around the country, brings the issue of guardianship front and center, where we all should be taking a good, hard look.

Having legal guardianship over someone means that you make decisions for them.  You decide where they will live, if and where they can work, what they will eat and with whom they will associate.

These are the decisions we make for children, because we believe they are not yet able to make these decisions for themselves.

Indeed, that was Jenny Hatch’s lament regarding the group homes where the Rosses wanted her to live: She was treated like a child.

Full Article and Source:
Every grown-up should get chance to make own decisions

See Also:
Disability Is No Excuse to Deprive One of Civil Liberties

Couple wins custody of Jenny Hatch

Jenny Hatch’s courtroom battle continues

Jenny Hatch shouldn’t be treated as a prisoner

Schaumburg police seek help finding missing senior

August 18, 2013

The Schaumburg Police Department is seeking the public’s help with finding a missing senior who might be in danger.

Agripina Resendiz, 76, who is under the guardianship of the Illinois Office of the State Guardian because of her medical condition, was last seen Wednesday. Resendiz is a resident of a Schaumburg health care facility by court order.
Police said Resendiz was visited Wednesday by her son, Armando Resendiz, who spent several hours with her at the facility. Facility staff later discovered Resendiz missing and believe she may be with her son, police said.

Authorities believe Armando Resendiz, 52, has been living in various hotels in the Northwest Cook County or DuPage County areas. He was seen driving a green 1995 Ford Explorer.

Full Article and Source:
Schaumburg police seek help finding missing senior