Do you think you are safe from probate predators?
We have often discussed the almost endless ways that guardianships can be used by court insiders to exploit seniors and their families by imposing unneeded or unwanted guardianships on a senior, especially a senior with assets.
While there is plenty of blame to go around, we have often said that without the court insider judges none of this abuse could be possible. Scandals in various states including New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan and of course Florida have underscored the malignant nature of the abusive probate guardianship cabal in state after state, dramatically proving that it is dangerous to grow old in America.
It is not even safe to turn 18.
If a disabled child has been awarded money in a settlement intended to provide care for life, it is even dangerous to have an 18th birthday! We have seen how often disabled children who have been awarded malpractice or injury settlements placed in trust till they reach age 18 are snatched from school by court insider predator guardians on their 18th birthday and disappeared in needless forced adult guardianships, ripped from their devoted parents never to see them again.
Predator insiders pose an incredible existential and fiscal threat to victims and families of all ages!
A couple of cases recently brought to our attention, reveal another cautionary tale.
The cases of Mimi Brun in Michigan and Karyn Turk in Florida expose another nefarious gambit employed by guardians and attorneys working with nursing homes and other facilities. While hospitals are anxious to dump nonrevenue producing patients by placing them into guardianships and shipping them off to facilities (as was the case with Florida Guardian Rebecca Fierle who was paid millions by Florida Hospital to take money losing patient off their hands out of their beds and into abusive guardianships to die with phony DNR orders) , facilities like nursing homes have learned that they can use guardianships to collect money owed them.
At the time of admission to any nursing home, almost universally across the United States, responsible family members are required to sign, among many other things, an arbitration agreement buried in the details of an admission contract. This agreement removes the right of a senior’s family member to sue the facility and instead submit to arbitration for any disagreements or issues that would normally be settled in a lawsuit. While this sounds reasonable, the advantage in this situation is overwhelmingly in favor of the facilities as they have experience and leverage in such proceedings while the average person has none at all.
In both the Brun and Turk cases, the patient for whatever reason was not eligible for the anticipated Medicaid benefits that would have spared the family the huge expense of having a loved one in a nursing home (as much as $30,000 per month at retail prices). Facilities typically are satisfied with reduced levels of payments from Medicaid programs rather than the much higher rates they charge private pay families. Often facilities promise families they will arrange for Medicaid to be obtained just in time to cover the costs of care, typically after Medicare benefits run out after a hospitalization. But, if the patient, for any reason, does not qualify for Medicaid, the facility resorts to billing the family member at full fare rather than the reduced anticipated Medicaid rate. The charges may start to accrue in arrears since the decision by Medicaid can often be delayed for some time. This leaves the family with a large unpaid balance and understandably families are reluctant to pay. But because of the arbitration agreement, the nursing home is also constrained from suing the family members.
Even more insidious is the fact the clinical case workers can extend a patient stay indefinitely by stating a patient needs more care or is not safe to be discharged. This gambit places family in an impossible bind and open to APS intervention if they insist on discharge.
Sadly, one recourse available to the facility is to impose an involuntary guardianship on the patient, which in effect allows them to dip into any of the patient’s assets or their family’s personal private assets and for an attorney to begin legal action against the family member in probate court rather than in civil court. Veterans of the probate court understand how ridiculously easy it is to allege that a nursing home patient is incapacitated and how predictable it is that an evaluation for total incapacity will surely be produced and justify the “need” for an emergency plenary guardianship. Once the lawyers are involved, they have every incentive to milk the ward and their family for everything they can. The resulting probate actions are often staged litigation about which we write quite frequently. Because of the way probate equity court works, every allegation of the attorney for the Guardian is presumed to be factual and the accused family member is routinely vilified and debased even if they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. They are besmirched, attacked, degraded and abused as evildoers and criminals—all because they tried to take care of a loved one.
In the Brun case, Mimi Brun offered to pay the entire nursing home bill, but the predatory attorneys in Oakland County Michigan and the indescribably criminal public administrators– who each get hundreds of guardianships from a small number of highly suspect Michigan magistrates and judges– involved in the case, rather than resolving the dispute, created problem after awful problem all in their attempt to seize the daughter Mimi’s assets and home. In the process of course Mimi’s mother Virginia Wahab was slowly murdered. The emotional and financial damage to Mimi has been beyond the pale.
Karyn Turk who was doing her best to take care of her elderly mother using a combination of her own and her mother’s minimal monthly income from Social Security, was frustrated that the home failed to qualify her mother for Medicaid and was upset with the care that was being given at the nursing home. When she complained to the ombudsman service in Florida, the nursing home retaliated by initiating a guardianship. The Guardian and Guardian attorney are well-known predatory members of the guardianship cabal in Palm Beach Florida. They proceeded to attack Karyn (a former Mrs. Florida and well known conservative commentator) in every way possible, including by filing a criminal action against her for allegedly misspending about $17,300 Social Security money of her mother’s, a charge that Karyn vehemently denies by claiming that there is no proof of any wrongdoing or misappropriation of funds. But proof or not, the allegation was enough for the legal system. During the course of all this legal maneuvering, of course her mother was slowly eliminated in hospice. All this because the tool of probate guardianship was available to the nursing home.
These tales are cautionary. As we keep repeating- the best guardianship is the one that never happens. Although someone’s 18th birthday should be a happy day, it sometimes ends a disabled child’s freedom. Although Mimi Brun is an internationally recognized artist and Karyn Turk is a very visible conservative commentator with a large social media following, they both became victims of the guardianship cudgel over a billing dispute and in the process lost their loved ones.
When it does become necessary to place a loved one in a nursing home, everyone must realize they are signing extremely important papers that obligate them for potentially enormous bills and prevent them from taking legal actions against the facility should that need arise. Furthermore, recognizing that nursing homes are in business to make a profit, the administrators of these facilities have available to them the ultimate nuclear weapon of guardianship in the probate court to collect their bills. That weapon cannot only help them collect fees at a much higher rate than Medicaid would pay, but also put them nearly first in line to be paid when the estate is sold off.
Young or old, rich or not, disabled or not, black or white or any color, male or female, alone or blessed with friends and family, predatory court insiders do not discriminate when here is money to be taken. This egregious system of massive state government-court overreach is rigged in their favor and until that pernicious system is dismantled, and the abusers prosecuted to the full and proper extent of the law, we are all in danger of being erased as sacrifices on the altar of the insatiable greed of the corrupt and illegitimate system of American equity court guardianship.