Guardianship News:

Did you know?

Dr Sam Sugar, Founder, Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship Dr Sam Sugar, Founder, Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship

As a result of an increased awareness of the issues in professional guardianships brought brought about by AAAPG, other advocacy groups and dedicated citizens around the country, there is a lot of light being shone on the exploitation of seniors in guardianship and what to do about it.

In Nevada a police officer. Lt. James Melton has been arrested for conspiring with notorious guardian April Parks to run her infamous racket exploiting the elderly and their families in Las Vegas. Also, legislation creating the Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office took effect January 1, 2018. The Commission to Study the Administration of Guardianships in Nevada’s Courts proposed seven major reforms, including the Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office, resulting in five bills approved in the Legislature and signed by Governor Brian Sandoval. Creation of the Nevada Guardianship Compliance Office, a Guardianship Bill of Rights, and mandatory appointment of legal counsel for persons in need of protection were all enacted by legislation spurred on by advocacy.

In New Mexico dedicated advocates organized by our own Kelly Smoot Garrett has done all they possibly could to influence the creation of new guardianship laws in that state. While their efforts did not produce the kind of reform that would actually lead to less guardianships, new laws have been put in place that do at least contain some relief from the egregious sequestration and visitation aspects of prior New Mexico statutes. In New Mexico we have an excellent example of how an attentive press, in this case the Albuquerque Journal and others, can have a profound effect and calling attention to guardianship abuse and the need for legislative and law enforcement relief.

In Indiana, a new online registry that aims to protect elderly people and others in Indiana from being financially exploited by their court-appointed guardians is now being used by courts in more than half of the state’s counties. The registry helps courts monitor guardianship cases to help protect people who are unable to manage their personal and/or financial affairs.

In the Arts, the Laura Checkoway short film “Edith and Eddie” with Executive Produce Cher, produced by Tom Wright –a longtime supporter of AAAPG–, a story about the love between two elderly people that was destroyed by a guardianship that forced them apart and ultimately resulted in tragedy has been nominated for and appears to be the front runner for an Academy Award.

Personally, I am very hopeful that the publication of my book “Elder Guardianship-the Perfect Crime” will bring even more attention to the crisis of abusive guardianship in America when it is released this spring.

While we work tirelessly to expose the guardianship industry for what it is, the issue of what to do about it remains unanswered. While advocates have driven the passage of some visitation laws reform, legislative fixes have proven to be ineffective in curbing what appears to be the insatiable appetite of court insiders for the low hanging fruit of estates that fall into their laps via the guardianship machine. Despite promises from law enforcement at the highest levels, convincing authorities that serious crimes are being committed in guardianships has proven nearly impossible. There may be some hope with the formation of the elder justice task force which is charged with collecting information and reports on guardianship abuse going forward.

We stand ready to present any law enforcement entity the over 800 cases that we have compiled and fully documented over the last decade, but so far despite this largest single collection of completely documented cases in history, no government agency has been willing to accept them.

Finally,  on a more personal level, the number of new cases being called into our 800-number has accelerated dramatically. As always, the stories are utterly heartbreaking. The devastation is incredible. The destructiveness of this all-powerful unchecked unmonitored system of wealth extraction and misery creation is something that even after all these years I find to be almost unbelievable. While AAAPG is able to assist with information, counseling, public demonstrations, pathways to appropriate reporting to responsible agencies and government, surveys and a host of other attempts to help, the monolithic nature of the guardianship beast overpowers individuals and families every time and at the moment our best advice remains to prevent every guardianship possible.

All of us who work on behalf of our organization are committed to finding a way to bring about the changes in Court practice that will result in a system that actually helps individuals who need it rather than victimizing them.

3 Comments on Did you know?

  1. Unless the agencies responsible for oversight are responsive to the complaints, and complainant, they become just another level of protection for the perpetrators. I tried in NY, to the oversight mechanisms for judges, and bar association. The Commission for Judicial conduct refused to take action, as well as the Associate Justice, and the bar association has yet to make a determination since the initial complaint last May. The final response with statements, records, and other evidence was submitted in July. The oversight for guardians is only able yo send the guardian a letter, and not recommend him for future posts. None of the legal aid agencies will help, and it appears that caregivers have no rights or input whatsoever. According to DSS, and the court I am expected to provide food, groceries, medications without any funds from the guardian, in addition to cooking cleaning, washing, showering, giving medications, and general upkeep of !my mother, and the household. DSS requires me to do this under threat of charges of neglect or abuse, and cannot do anything to force the guardian to provide funds for this purpose, and the judge actually tried to find where I was getting these funds from. Once the guardian got the credit card bill he promptly canceled the card. I have been living off borrowed money for weekly necessities, and some utilities. In the meantime the court has allowed over $50,000 for fees commissions, and other expenses, while paying off the credit card I used from May to December for expenses including $1,000 for utilities, and interest of $4,000. Unless I get some form of legal aid, I am stuck in an untenable situation. I also had over $7,000 worth of merchandise stolen by the realtor, sent a letter of complaint to all parties concerned, with no response. I’ve called and written local TV stations to no avail, and written the newspapers with the same result. It seems no one will tackle this issue, or help.

  2. John,
    Went through a slightly similar situation in FL. Same experience with all agencies responsible for oversight. Department of Social Services (DSS) Adult Protective Services APS, Department of Elder Affairs (DEA) Office of Public and Professional Guardians (OPPG) are all worse than impotent and actually aid the guardian by whitewashing any complaints. Even the advocacy groups seem to join in the exploitation from the other end of the spectrum as they take ownership through copyright rights of private individual stories. I guess they’ve come to realize that if you can’t beat em, might as well join em. Individual court appointed guardians are the spigots used to keep the honeypots full for the lawyers. All the rest simple keep the valve mechanisms well greased and operational. Personally drained with elder loved one finally in peace having just passed last week I am acting as a pro se with active cases for malpractice, undue influence and tortious interference but without any help from the legal community or from the advocacy groups. Unfortunately, it seems that they are not interested in establishing case law but are more interested in hobnobbing with public figures and legislators for exposure, media attention and publication rights.

  3. Ms. Belanger’s February 3, 2018 opinion comment in the “State of the Guardianship Union Post” was accurately on point.

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