CONSERVATORS AND GUARDIANS WHO RIP YOU OFF!
A recent BOSTON LEGAL show touched on this theme. A conservator can seek out senile seniors, or even not senile, just somewhat failing, search old age homes, sign them up, go to court and run their estate into the ground. He can pay janitors at old age homes to bring him clients. He can pilfer from the estate, charge outrageous amounts for his service and even sell the home. Ditto the GUARDIAN (website below has instances.)
Read this scary Saga of a Widow who fought a 2-year struggle to have her own money. A Yucaipa California woman was finally granted removal of a conservator who took control of her finances and this was done without her knowledge!
CONSERVATOR TAKES ALL!
By Evelyn Larrubia
LA Times Staff Writer
March 31, 2006
An 88-year-old Yucaipa widow won her independence from the Inland Empire's
largest for-profit conservatorship firm Thursday when a San Bernardino
County probate judge granted her request and appointed her step-grandson as
Helen Jones, a frugal former assembly-line worker who had amassed a
$560,000 nest egg, had been seeking the removal of the firm,
Conservatorship and Resources for the Elderly Inc., for the last two years
after it assumed legal control of her life and finances.
Melodie Scott, head of the firm, submitted a written resignation through
her lawyer to Superior Court Judge Frank Gafkowski before he named the new
"Look at that! She resigns!" Jones said of Scott while leaving Gafkowski's
courtroom, triumphantly holding up a copy of the document.
Scott was not in court and did not return a call seeking comment.
Jones was featured in a Times series on California's for-profit
conservators. The investigation, based on a review of more than 2,400
cases, described a largely unregulated system in which for-profit
conservators swiftly take control of the lives of the aged and disabled,
often without their knowledge.
Jones became ensnared in the system in December 2002, after a casual
acquaintance thought she could use some help with household chores and
called Scott's firm for assistance.
At the time, Jones lived alone, was nearly deaf and had trouble walking
long distances because of damage from a rare neurological disease. She got
around in a wheelchair or used a walker. Her home had become cluttered, and
she had trouble getting to the grocery store. (Tell me what single senior doesn't
show up in that condition??)
Since she never had children and had outlived everyone in her family, there
were no relatives nearby to help care for her. She had married in her 50s
to an older man, but she had lost touch with his relatives in the 1980s
after his death.
However, she remained keen of mind and was financially secure, given all the
money she had squirreled away after a lifetime of factory and office jobs.
By the time Scott took control of her finances, she had more than $560,000
in her bank accounts.
Jones said Scott became her conservator after an employee from
Conservatorship and Resources for the Elderly appeared at her home and said
she was with CARE, referring to the firm by its acronym.
The employee asked her to sign a document.
Jones said she signed the document without reading it, assuming the woman
worked for California Alternate Rates for Energy, a Southern California
Edison program that gives seniors a break on utility bills.
Instead, the one-paragraph form said that Jones wanted Scott to be her
conservator, or legal guardian.
Scott attached the form to a court petition and asked a judge in San
Bernardino probate court to give her immediate emergency powers as Jones'
conservator. Her request was granted.
It was months before Jones realized that Scott had taken over her bank
accounts, she said. When she understood what had happened, she sought help
from pro-bono lawyers at Inland Counties Legal Services.
Bob Roddick, the firm's managing attorney, appeared in court in March 2004
and asked a judge to appoint a lawyer specializing in conservatorship
matters to help Jones remove Scott's firm and gain control of her life.
At the time, Jones was concerned because Scott's firm was spending her
money on household appliances and other services she never asked for.
Roddick said there was no doubt in his mind that Jones had the capacity to
make her own decisions and expected her to be released from conservatorship
But the process of ending a conservatorship, once it has been established,
is difficult and lengthy.
Scott fought Jones' efforts, insisting that the elderly woman was incapable
of managing her own affairs.
In court documents, she said Jones was a schizophrenic and was "near death"
when Scott took over her life.
Jones disputed Scott's claims. She said she was not near death when Scott
became her conservator and had never been diagnosed with any mental
illness. Neighbors, friends and relatives corroborated her account.
"I guess I was naive," Roddick said Thursday outside court, about his
assumption that ending Scott's conservatorship would be simple.
Roddick said he was relieved that Scott was out of the picture, but added:
"It took too much time, too much money."
Jones reconnected with her husband's relatives last year, when a Times
reporter working on the series contacted them. They were stunned to learn
of her circumstances and vowed to help.
Soon, Mike Tomazin, her 52-year-old step-grandson, offered to serve as her
conservator. He runs a family trust and his own horse ranch in Madera that
provides therapy for children suffering from autism or Asperger's syndrome.
Judge Gafkowski appointed Tomazin temporary conservator Thursday pending an
April hearing on his request for a permanent appointment.
Still unresolved is the issue of Scott's fees and the money she has spent
from Jones' accounts since January 2004. To date, Scott has spent more than
$200,000 of Jones' assets.
Jones has filed an objection to the latest financial report. Gafkowski set
a June hearing.
"It cost me," Jones said, "but I got rid of them."
GUARDIANSHIPS where someone SNOOKERS
HALF HER FORTUNE GONE! OUCHEY! SENIORS must be watched carefully by family members in case these slezebags are wandering around seeking ditsy, tangle-haired old people with funny posture, bad eyesight
and excess love of people, utter trust and credulity! The problem is, so many seniors have no children or are out of touch with their children. The child knows the parent is alive but has no idea a conservator may have glommed onto them.
When I read how easy it is to get a senior to hand over her power of attorney it occurs to me that saintly lovely people who run hospices for cats and poundogs, skunks, horses and pot-bellied pigs, should network at seniors events and find the guys and gals with no heirs and just have them WILL YOU THE MONEY that's left when they go! Ask and ye shall receive. Also, people running DAYCARE for latch key children of single mothers, you find yourself some of these oldsters, tell them you'll use their money to give scholarships to the really poor Mexican maids who work 5 days a week, full time and have no child care. To take it, you go to State of Calif Secretary of State and apply for a tax exempt non profit charity.
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