I received a number of responses to my recent call for input from victims.
Here are a few examples. What do you think?
Court-appointed guardianship is financial abuse of elders and in each state it has put a veneer on itself that falsely says they are helping people but all they are doing and it’s always lawyer is take control of people’s lives so they can take their money. It needs to be abolished. There is no reason for its existence.
I have contacted the Justice Department and I have contacted social security. An investigator from social security has started an investigation. I have also heard from the Justice Department.
I think this is something that has to be handled by the federal government and it is the federal government that needs to be contacted by victims and their families continually. For the states, it is just business as usual for lawyers who want to make money by charging hundreds of dollars an hour for invented work.
First of all, I want to say thank you for all your hard work. It brings tears of total frustration to read this…but, having lost my mom, as you have lost your mother in law, I am NOT SURPRISED one darn bit.
In my mind, there is really only one solution, fight them with their own ammo and beat them at their own game. What I mean by that is remove the elder from where they are before being deemed incompetent. Like an “underground railroad” but different. At the VERY least, they will not drug and murder the person. If we can get to the bank account, that would be a bonus. They may be able to freeze the assets, but they can’t deem the person incompetent if they can’t find them. Remember about a year ago in our phone meeting, I said that if I had to do it all over again, I would KIDNAP my mom? I really believe that, and more so today.I believe more today than ever that MY attorneys were in on the guardian scheme.
On another note, I know we’ve done the “let’s get the word out there” through regular channels like newspapers and TV, but they don’t really seem to care or repress the stories about what is really going on, with a few exceptions. I think we need to continue getting the word out there, but we’re missing a lot of opened doors and windows with getting our message out there.
Earlier this year, I was approached by someone who asked me to write a book about my mom’s story. I wrote it in 2 months, mostly because I was able to get all of my mom’s medical records and saw what they did to her. My partner and I have done everything, including about to upload the book to HULU. My first “book signing” or “meet and greet” will be at a local bar owned by a friend. From there, I”m going to elder communities like “The Villages” in Ocala, churches, and so on and so forth. Publishing companies are the same…they don’t want to touch this topic with a 10 foot pole. Kristi Hood told (Probate Pirates) me the same thing. She had to self publish because of this reason.
We CANNOT think the same or go the route we’ve done in the past, we have to really think outside the box. We need to make MORE documentaries, but it has to be in “real time.” Even though he is not liked by a lot of people, I like Michael Moore. He’s won Academy Awards and he doesn’t care about the mainstream system. We need someone like him. We need to contact an aspiring film maker. A friend of mine has produced some small films. I’ve known her for more than 30 years.
The legal system isn’t going to help us…we have to be OUR OWN legal system. This is one time that we CANNOT play by the rules. They expect us to play by the rules, and we can’t do that anymore.
I use to be afraid, Sam, but I’m not anymore. These people keep us angry, afraid and downtrodden even after our family members have been dead for years. Unlike us, these criminal guardians and attorneys stand WITH each other, and do everything possible to split us apart.
The only thing that has gotten me through losing my mom is my faith, the videos I have of her and our photos together.
First, I want to say how much I appreciate the work you are doing to reform the way guardianship is managed. In my opinion the problem is not just guardianship. The primary problem is that lawyers are a law unto themselves. Lawyers control the legal system and the District Attorney’s office. They are the major occupational group in the legislature. There is no oversight of lawyers by other branches of government or people who are not lawyers or judges. These problems are not addressed by the U.S. constitution. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention, most of whom were lawyers (about 60%), did not address the fact that self-policing does not work in any profession including the legal profession. Supposedly, oversight of lawyers by judges is sufficient. In fact there is virtually no accountability.
1. Accountability of lawyers and judges: The legal system is the final authority for accountability of everyone including lawyers. Lawyers control the legal system that is responsible for holding them accountable. Although this occurs naturally it is a conflict of interest. There is separation of powers for judges but not lawyers. Judges are elected or appointed by the executive branch. They can be impeached by the legislature.
Profession Appointed/elected Financially disinterested Impeachment Immunity
Judge Yes Yes (salaried) Yes Yes
Lawyer No No (self employed) No Yes
2. Immunity: Financially disinterested, salaried, elected or appointed judges and other public officials who have authority to make decisions that may be unpopular need immunity from civil suits. Judges give, self-employed lawyers, GALs, and professional guardians quasi-judicial immunity. This is an invitation to abuse of authority. This double standard for attorneys, GALs, and guardians is possible because the legal profession is self-policing.
3. Financial incentives: In contrast to most other professions the income of lawyers depends on people being dishonest and fighting with each other. There is a financial incentive to condone and enable dishonesty and fan the flames of conflict.
4. Monopoly status of the court: There is government oversight of private companies that have monopoly status. The legal system is an unregulated monopoly. The only oversight is the balance of powers between the three branches of government. Lawyers can abuse the monopoly status of the court through collusion to delay the resolution of cases (see cartoon above). There is no legal recourse if this happens. There is only one legal system. There is no competition to prevent abuse of authority.
5. Adversarial system: The court is expensive and inefficient because it is an adversarial system.
6. Judges: Judges are financially disinterested parties who are elected or appointed and subject to impeachment. Unless they are dishonest they do not profit from guardianship abuse. I think the Supreme Court (either State or Federal) could intervene on constitutional grounds of separation of powers, lack of due process, violation of fifth amendment rights, etc.
7. Elder Service agencies: The mandate of the Elder Service agencies is to provide assistance to incapacitated elders to help them remain at home as long as possible. This is in the best interest of the person and the government to save on Medicaid costs. In my experience Massachusetts has good Elder Service agencies. They have Financial Abuse Specialist Teams to investigate complex forms of financial abuse. If they do not already have such the Elder Services should have a team of disinterested medical experts to make medical decisions when required. The Elder Service agency was supportive of my efforts to keep Gretchen at home. They monitored Gretchen’s care and provided advice and financial assistance for home care and day care. Protective Services had the ability to protect Gretchen and me from abuse. The agency is available to receive complaints and respond to problems quickly. They came to the house periodically to see Gretchen and evaluate her needs and my care of her. The salaried caseworkers of the Elder Service agency have no financial incentive to obstruct efficient resolution of cases. Since they are salaried they do not benefit financial from their decisions. The agency is not an adversarial system where time and money are wasted with people work against each other. There is a variety of in-house expertise. A single person is not expected to wear many different hats as is the case with professional guardians. They did their jobs objectively, correctly, and efficiently. They treated Gretchen and me in a caring, respectful way. They do not recruit wards for profit like professional guardians. They are not in an adversarial relationship with parties seeking guardianship and can work with all parties in a disinterested way. The Elder Service agency did everything right. Apparently, many other states do not have good elder service agencies. Massachusetts may be in a unique position to restructure guardianship in a way that could serve as a model for other states.
Short of reforming the whole legal system I think the best answer for guardianship is to take it out of the court system. The job of the legal system is litigation not managing social service programs. Allowing the legal system to manage anything puts the court in a position of conflict of interest if there is a complaint against the way something is being managed. The court is both a party to and the arbiter of the dispute.
Wow. I hate to say this, but reading such a very discouraging and discouraged message makes me feel a whole lot less guilty about my own failure.
I know only one surefire way for an individual to avoid an abusive guardianship: don’t have any money or property! I suspect that’s the situation I’ll be in, soon after I retire. You think a trailer in a trailer park would be a tempting target for guardians, or would they leave those folks alone?
I was able to resign XXXXX and her lawyer XXXXXXXX who took a position in the estate by moving my
father out of state. I did it without her approval since my dad had retained the right to determine his residence and being able
to travel. They had no choice at that time. I had move the courts and that moved everything along.
Your correct, law enforcement isn’t in the mix. They don’t want to be. I tried.
In Florida, my advice for change is to get rid of Rick Scott and get rid of Bundi who I tried to connect with.
I wish things were different but sometimes you have to lose to win.
I totally agree that we are fighting what seems to be a no win war against the guardianship industry. With that said, I do not think we can stop doing what we are doing ~ as small as it seems. We do have some forward movement, but with attorneys crafting our laws there will always be a hole for them to climb through. The issue of follow the money also is against us, as they are following the larger estates first, but it will trickle down to medicare and social security recipients as there is money to be had there.
What I think we need to do and trying to logistically do it, are at opposite ends. I think we need to get all the advocates together, but with the most active spread out and still working our cases, time and money to get there is a wall that seems insurmountable. Even getting some out publicly is hard because we are afraid of hurting our cases and therefore our parent(s).
Listening to Marti’s show last evening, she spoke about this being an executive branch rather than judicial or legislative issue. If that is the case, I do have the ear of our gubernatorial candidate. Mike Pence and his party followers are all about the money and power, so I am not sure if we will ever get any help from that side/candidates.
I have been crafting some letters for local papers. I am waiting on a settlement to be signed and then I will let it fly in Indianapolis as well. I think continuing to write and what has been done in the past needs to continue, but I am trying to think of a way to get off of facebook and out to other readers. Maybe we need to try and put together some sort of small group videos in each state such as the one you did in Florida.
All good comments about our reality. Especially that our efforts are fragmented and not consistent in content or timeliness. The enemy is organized around greed and that the families are to blame. They have to say nothing more to grab the attention of leadership and have thousands of case files to support it. Documented family abuse will always legitimately outnumber professional guardian abuse. We have to work harder and smarter to be heard. All abuser should be prosecuted.
I believe we have to focus on judicial negligence, guardianship oversight, and criminal prosecution at a federal level. We aren’t succeeding with state or local efforts. Our mutual efforts hasn’t changed the trajectory in FL or NV.
SB3270 gives us a platform. I would like to see us all write letters and make calls to our U.S. Senators and Representatives demanding their support of the bill. A lobby day at the appropriate point is likely in order as well.
We can’t give up and must raise our game. We owe it to our parents, ourselves, and our children.
My opinion is to help every individual suffering from the abuse, to safety as they can gather in a group along with gathering the judges and lawyers together to take a stand. I may get tired but I am going to fight for what’s morally right. I will stop when my heart does. Until then, I shall brainstorm and find a way,
It has been one year since the courts in NJ wrongfully revoked my power of attorney , stole my mom’s estate , and sedated my mom to death . I cannot even probate my mom’s will .
What good is my opinion or thoughts to you? I do not have the money to sue the guilty parties and hold people accountable. All I can do is continue to tell people what happened, and most people do not want to hear about it. No one cares, and Will Rogers was correct when he said many years ago – The only way to beat the lawyers is to die with nothing.
Thank God my mother died and is beyond the lawyers reach of manipulation.
the only input I have is to fight for the estate docs to be honored. If that is done in most cases there will be no prof guardian involved. Judges must honor less restrictive alternatives with strict enforcements and penalties not adhering to the law
Dear Dr Sugar: Your letter is so concurrent with my feelings. I am so disheartened by
the ruse of the newly formed OOPG, the so called ‘Audits’, the ‘court monitors’. It is just another
ploy to placate us under the guise of ‘investigation.’ I can go over all the things that I have suffered with regard to the above mentioned items. But it is no more or less than all of us have endured.
I feel so abandoned by our system. My only small amount of condolence comes from your efforts
with the AAAPG and unfortunately the fact that I do not suffer alone. The road is too long and difficult. I feel like I am trying to climb Mt Everest on crutches. Everyday I must awake to the
same thoughts of abandonment and sickness. Groping thru statutes, trying to decipher the
meaning, applying them to the situation of the day as it changes so rapidly. And all to no avail.
As the laws are interpreted by those who ‘practice’ it. And are construed to meet the requirements
they need to impose more penalties and to conspire against us. I am almost 70 years old. I was
looking forward to retiring, enjoying time to travel and be with my grandchildren. But all of those
aspirations have been stolen from me. I have paid out most of my retirement in Attorneys fees.
I have lost the will to continue my business which I spent over 25 years promoting. My life with
my parents has been jeopardized as a result of trying to free them from their prison. I cannot
even visit with my mother as I have become a ‘threat’ to her well being. Even though her caregivers
are ex pill mill doctors, the paid private aide has twice been convicted of financial abuse. One of the times on the elderly. And yet continues to act as a CNA. This story is so unbelievable. It is intended only for Si-Fi TV. And I remain a threat to my most precious gift. An adorable loving mother, who gave all for her seven children. All.
But, I am not able to stop, quit or abandon my meek endeavors. Whatever they are. Sometimes it is even difficult for me to decipher what they are or should be. There must be an answer. Somewhere out there is the truth and wisdom to overcome our oppression. Perhaps we need to form a closer band. Even a march, or a bus ride. like in the sixties ! I do not know. I only know one thing. And that is: to me you are our Martin Luther King. And if you abandon the fight, we all lose. I know this may sound ridiculous, but perhaps we could get thousands of people together and march on Washington, bringing this massive abuse to the forefront. I don’t know, as I am
not much of a leader. Our efforts are slow moving due to the fact everyone has a separate battle
to fight. Although not making much headway on an individual basis, we still keep doing it, hoping
that we may win one little fight in our giant battle. We need to form an army, unite in a fashion where we may be heard. We are individuals fighting battles.
We need to form an Army to fight this war.
=============================================================I have a son-in-law that is going thru abuse with his guardian..they are selling everything and his care is horrible..They don’t care except for themselves and the money they can make..The gentleman is wealthy and they are taking and selling everything he has..the children will get nothing. Everyone is involved from the guardian to the Atty General of the state..nothing can be done and this is a sad state when nothing can be done about this…one lady tried, lots of pages of complaints and she was taken to court..another atty was also trying to take them to court and again, he was charged with slander…There has to be something that can be done, someone is honest and care..
I just wanted you to know there are lots that won’t complain because the stress is unbelievable..My son-in-law just wants out.
I still commend your efforts with this sleazy system of “Guardianship” in place. Your knowledge and articulation is bar none. However… it seems those same efforts that you make are targeted mainly to the state of Florida. Understandably because that is your base of operation. Those same valiant/worthy efforts have No effect on my locale.
My input would be to attempt to take the issue Nationally. You have had your Local Press coverage with its limited wake-up to your local municipal. Re-contact them with Any Updates and your continued struggle in an effort to have them take it to the A.P or U.P.I..
With today’s Mass-Media coverage from the story of a lost puppy dog to someone j-walking making national headlines. I would personally think that venue may be a good avenue to pursue. Look outside the box.
I hope this helps in some way to put a check and balance system into place for the rest of us in the same situation. Good luck, and Thank You for your valued time.