Grabbing the Purse

Texas’ guardianship law leaves the elderly open to abuses from a cozy system.
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Posted September 4, 2013 by JEFF PRINCE in News

Thousands of volunteers and private professionals assist vulnerable or incapacitated people in Texas. Most of them do it for all the right reasons, said Texas Guardianship Association volun-teer executive director Inez Russell.

“I see people who work in guardian-ships who are not profiting from it. It is a labor of love, and they are genuinely caring people who want to make sure that people who can’t take care of themselves have somebody who will,” she said.

The association helps to educate professionals, families, and volunteer guardians about guardianship practices.

Luck: “I’ve worked since I was 15 years old, and I don’t deserve this.” Courtesy Dorothy Luck

Luck: “I’ve worked since I was 15 years old, and I don’t deserve this.” Courtesy Dorothy Luck

“I see a lot of cases where we have people who don’t have capacity, can’t make decisions for themselves, don’t have family, have been in abusive situations, and need somebody to intercede on their behalf,” she said. “We want to make sure the good that’s done in guardianship doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater when we’re looking at other issues.”

In recent years, however, numerous Tarrant County residents have told Fort Worth Weekly about an overzealous system overseen by two probate judges, King and Judge Pat Ferchill. The Weekly first exposed the heavy-handed tactics used by Ferchill in a story about a Fort Worth girl named Katia (“Saving Katia,” July 2, 2008). In that case, the court removed a girl from her mother in a secret hearing outside of her mother’s presence. A subsequent article highlighted the court’s methods in other cases (“Rethinking Guardianship,” May 19, 2010).

Similar articles have appeared in newspapers across the country since then, including an Austin American-Statesman piece earlier this year that described how an elderly woman, Sophie Paulos, spent three months and $100,000 on legal fees to prove her mental competence. Paulos prevailed but told the newspaper afterward that she was humiliated and frustrated by her treatment.

That court picked on the wrong old woman. Paulos’ son-in-law is former Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Seuhs, who vowed to seek guardianship reform through legislation. One of the lawmakers who listened is Rep. Stephanie Klick, a Republican from Fort Worth.

“I’m concerned about people who have worked all their lives and then had their life savings eaten up by these procedures,” Klick said. “We can do a better job.”

During this year’s regular legislative session, she sponsored House Bill 2600, seeking to add protections for those being evaluated for guardianship. One proposal was to require referrals for guardianship to be made via sworn affidavit.

“The process for initiating guardianship needs to be tightened up,” she said. “Someone who files something with the court needs a more formal affidavit rather than an informational letter that’s not sworn.”

The process should also be sped up to prevent excessive legal fees from piling up, and the courts should put people under guardianship only as a last resort, Klick said.

“The law says they are supposed to use the least restrictive means in handling these matters, and I’m not sure that’s the approach that is always utilized,” she said.

Houston-based advocate Michael Easton attended a hearing on April 15 at the Texas capitol on Klick’s bill. Several judges testified against proposed reforms, he said.

“Klick introduced a wonderful piece of legislation that would add transparency to the process,” he said. “[The judges] said it would clog up the system and cause more problems —  all vague and ambiguous reasons — and that everything is wonderful the way it is.

“Do you think they want to repair the system? They are happy with the way it is,” Easton said. “Right now there is no oversight, and they can do whatever they want.”

Klick’s bill didn’t make it out of committee this year, but she plans to push for similar reforms during the next legislative session. Her bill had backing from influential groups such as AARP and the Conservative Coalition Research Institute, a Texas-based think tank that advocates for individual liberties and limited government.

“I had people coming from all over the state who testified on the bill and thought it was a needed reform,” she said.

Probate judges have expressed concerns that requiring affidavits might discourage people from reporting cases where people need to be placed under guardianship, leaving vulnerable people at risk.

Meanwhile, the courts can hold secret hearings and replace family members as guardians without giving them a chance to defend themselves. When defendants try to appeal decisions, judges can require that they put up expensive bonds beforehand, effectively pricing people out of the ability to seek justice. Trying to overturn a probate judge’s decision can lead to a confusing maze of hearings, each step freighted with legal fees charged to the defendant or to taxpayers.

The Texas Probate Code allows something that most states don’t: court-initiated guardianships. The law permits court-appointed attorneys and guardians who are representing a person to initiate the referral for a guardianship case. King requires a fairly simple letter to be filled out by a family member, friend, or agency such as Adult Protective Services.

All guardianships require the judge to consider less restrictive alternatives.

Critics complain of a closed, self-sustaining, incestuous system. Judges appoint attorneys to cases at rates that can approach $300 or $400 an hour. Guardians and attorneys, in turn, give money to judges by way of campaign contributions.

Attorneys who asked for anonymity explained the system this way: Judges cater to attorneys, who donate to the judges’ campaigns. Judges earn high salaries with good benefits and pensions, and those who aren’t attorney-friendly might soon be facing a well-financed challenger in the next election. Tarrant County probate judges earn $158,000 a year in salary, plus health benefits and a pension.

In 2010, King listed almost $30,000 in contributions even though he had no opponent in that year’s election. Much of the money came from law firms and attorneys who benefit financially from being appointed to such cases. King is up for election again in 2014.

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69 Comments


  1.  

    It has become an appalling, yet accepted, practice for guardianships to devour the very estates the proceedings are designed to conserve. Many wards of the state are “protected” into indigence; some into spiraling debt — all under the guise of “protection.”

    Unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships are a threat to the health and wealth of our vulnerable elderly and disabled.

    Join the TX movement for reform: Join GRADE. And take it a step further, join the national movement for reform: Join NASGA.




  2.  
    helensniece

    National problem – a national shameful disgrace it’s all about doctor shopping while seizing assets under color of law. Loss of rights, loss of income and all property with little to no chance of being set free before the money runs out. And the Baby Boomers are next so if you’re reading about what’s happening to the WWII generation – I hope your eyes are wide open in horror of how you, me, we will be spending our ‘golden years’ our gold into to the pockets of the protection industry ***** ” Most of the attorneys or their law firms involved in this case can be found listed among King’s campaign contributors. Most refused comment or did not respond to interview requests for this article. King would not comment on the case being litigated, nor would he discuss the guardianship system in general.”******




  3.  

    Thanks Jeff for telling this story. The guardianship laws in many States including Texas need to have more checks and balances to ensure that a system that can be used to protect this is need is not used abusively or excessively In such a way that it wrongly deprives innocent citizens with assets of their constitutionally guaranteed rights, of their liberty and their property under the guise of protection and color of law. These laws give the judges in these cases near omnipotent powers and the person who is declared incapacitated when they should not be is left powerless to fight back. Judges are human and sometimes can make a mistake and when that happens the individual who loses all their rights must retain the right to appeal and to hire an attorney with their own money to right the wrong. There are greedy people who have learned how easy it can be to seek a guardianship gain access to other people’s money. Our elected officials must ensure that the laws in our state are written in such a way or amended to prevent such abuses. http://Www.endguardianshipabuse.org has a petition signed by nearly 2000 people calling for reforms to Stop Elder Abuse and Guardianship Abuse.




  4.  

    I’ve been a long-standing advocate for seniors (more than 25 years) and these “cozy” situations prevail. We need a national spotlight on these cases and we need to hold the courts, judges, attorneys and fidcuciaries completely accountable. The court appointed list of attorneys get the client referrals by simply existing on the court’s list. True checks and balances are practically non-existent. It is almost like prescription drug refills. Once the prescription is ordered, in this case the court appointed attorney is designated, it is practically a guarantee of ongoing billable hours to the estate and guaranteed income to the attorneys-like an automated refill from Walgreens. Only, Medicare coverage picks up the bill for the prescription drugs and in this case the individual’s estate becomes a bottomless pit. We need to pay attention and object and take a stand.




  5.  

    Probate law reform to protect Americans from removal of their constitutional rights without due process is urgently needed. My Mother Lillian Glasser had her constitutional rights summarily removed by Judge Polly Jackson Spencer. Judge Spencer who lectures to attorney’s is considered an authority on Probate Law, illustrating that what happened to Lillian Glasser was business as usual in a Texas probate court.
    My website attorneygonebad.com tells of the removal of my Mother’s constitutional rights and her ordeal of captivity and psychological torture in Texas. The site title is Lillian Glasser Elder Abuse Crimes of Goldman Sachs by Mark Glasser Miami Florida.




  6.  

    Where there is money there is greed. Where there is greed there is power. All that in the hands of courts. Yes it is horrible to loot the money. It is also horrible to isolate and determine the course of treatment by strangers, who shall visit, whether you should live or die, who the care provider is and can visit. One thing Luck has is some freedom, she is not in a nursing home yet, but I suspect that will be soon because she is fighting. If she does not get out now it will only get worse. Those of us who are fighting for a loved know how it works. Listen to the advice and experience of others. The public guardian petitioned the court to end my husband’s life in 2009. Because of my advocacy he is still alive. All cases in guardianship are bad. How can you rate any of them? Some fight for the money while others fight for a life in guardianship. As soon as the money is gone, your life and/or quality of life are next.




  7.  

    The government has afforded these tools to lawyers to facilitate the theft within the probate & family court in our nation for its unintended purpose, it appears the only tools to combat such an unjust outcome is to apply Blakely’s racketeering statute, little did he no when authoring his mafia statute it would be the mechanism to remedy and untangle this type of crime, someone needs to be successful in bringing R.I.C.O. it forward federally maybe someday the federal government will allow it to go forward. Google Search- Lynched by Court Order
    Chester Chalupowski

    http://judicial-corruption.blogspot.com/




  8.  

    PS: Please sign petition ( http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/lets-kill-all-the-lawyers ) and move it forward.
    Thank You
    Chester Chalupowski




  9.  
    Mary

    My son is also a victim of a so-called guardian. This Rebecca Fierle threaten my son she stated: “If you call me again about your money, I will put you in a crazy house” . We also got a bogus document with our names linked to a stranger who we have never had any affiliation with. This document is only filed with the court you or I never see it. We got this bogus document by mistake. Now once it is in place the low life lawyer can steal all the assets faster. This is nothing short of sophisticated FRAUD..




  10.  
    Jill

    This is happening everywhere. My best friend’s mother is currently a victim in Tarrant County. The website, stopguardianabuse.com, has a Wanted list and four of the people involved in her case are on that list. Both Tarrant County probate judges are on it. Bottom line is that the second it hits the courthouse steps, you lose your loved one. They say they’re “protecting” their assets, but if they’re charging exhorbitant fees which, by guardianship law, have to be paid out of the estate, how is that protecting? Her money is all but gone in less than 3 months.




  11.  
    Ashleigh

    This is beyond infuriating. What an unbelievable disgrace. What a grave injustice. Shame on King and his posse of manipulative thieves for this outrageous abuse of power.

    I hope all culprits are losing sleep over this. If not, I hope they spend eternity pondering these misdeeds in a restless and painful afterlife.




  12.  
    Frank Covington

    Ms Luck’s descriptions of experiences from this guardianship abuse are all too familiar. The initial feeling of disbelief that this really is happening to you, in this country of democracy and freedom. And the weariness after years of overpowered conduct by the legionnaires of the court and the court itself. In my case, the sensation is a civilian version of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not only will my and my family’s lives forever be jaundiced from our experience, but we will live our lives with the constant fear of an oppressive recurrence from the court which cannot be escaped. Abuse and exploitation draped with the court approved guardianship can happen to anyone. There is no absolute defense, as the article reads, the judge, or even any “interested person”, can initiate a guardianship. It can happen in a secret hearing, unbeknownst and unannounced to the target subject, family, or friends. Last legislative session, the laws were amended to allow for guardianship to be placed upon a person with a simple physical handicap. Under guardianship, a person loses rights and freedoms, access to their own resources, and becomes a ward of the state. Research this for your own edification, and don’t rely on the spin from the syndicate of players protecting their vested interests! Once placed under guardianship, there is virtually no escape and no turning back at that point. Guardianship was established as a means to take care of elderly and developmentally disabled people who can’t take care of themselves. Historically those special individuals were cared for by family or programs instituted for this purpose. Now, it has developed into a burgeoning industry, especially in Texas, and a cash cow for lawyers, as you read Ms Luck’s story. You can thank your legislators for creating this broken system of obtrusive laws that allow probate courts to manage a social program that should be under MHMR or another transparent apolitical agency with oversight and liability for negligence, wrongfulness, and poor performance. Probate courts were set up to address the estates of dead people, not steal from those still alive. Ugly stories like Ms Luck’s and our own are being repeated more frequently. Petition your legislators to get guardianship out of the courts and fix this broken system before you yourself, friends, or family members become victims.




  13.  
    skeptic

    The physicians who initially evaluated Mrs. Luck as competent and then were “leaned upon” by the probate atty mafia to “partially” change their diagnosis “after further questioning–i.e. direction from the GAL-Guardian Ad Litem” need to be outed—PUBLICLY. They need to be reported to the medical board for unethical behavior. Make no mistake folks, the estate probate establishment is a multibillion dollar industry. Everybody involved in this incestuous cabal is out for very big bucks from the home health folks (that’s a whole topic in itself) to the hand in glove judicial and legal creeps . Their rationale is that occassionally the court asks them to represent impoverished clients pro bono, but more often they end up sucking the financial life blood of the wealthy or well off frugal middle class elderly. They will hold on to these cash cow cases using every possible trick in the book including tortuous neglect of their victims– just to show who is in charge. This is the case in every state I know of, except some states will allow the victim to chose their own attorney. This lady needs an advocate to call Adult Protective Services every day until these creeps get the picture–for starters, then publicity such as this article to name names of the guilty. Complaints to the bar association can mount up and be a deterent/embarrassment in some cases…




    •  
      skeptic

      Dr. Amy Moss at UNT Helath Sciences Center has, in my opinion, acted unethically in her revsion of diagnosis of competence at the “request” of the court appointed atty. There is a difinitive conflict of interest when the attorney is a UNT board member. Luck’s attys need to report this matter to the ethics committee of the Tarrant County Medical Association and have the case reviewed by an independent geriatric physician as an expert witness for possible litigation against the physician and UNT Health Sciences Center in order for Mrs. Luck to recover her assests–hard ball folks–that’s all they understand. BTW–Get all of her records now before they “disappear”. If ALL her records do not come in 15 days –report this also to the Texas Medical Board.




  14.  

    Hats off to Jeff Prince and the Fort Worth weekly for continuing your support to inform the public on what Guardianship has become in Texas. There is no doubt that it is all about the “Deception of Protection” for MONEY. Obviously Ms. Luck’s story identifies that her money was much better protected than she was, and it is also obvious that it was not being protected for her benefit. Once the money is all gone, what will happen to her?? Like so many who have been victimized within the walls of Texas Probate courts, she may become dependent on the Texas taxpayers to provide for her care until she is no longer living. A millionairess, whose future was planned by her late husband to ensure her well being. In this disgraceful, unprofessional, unethical and fraudulent practice, if they want it, they will take it. Which they certainly have done with Ms. Luck and the approval of King, the judge who plans to run for office again who may allow this practice to continue indefinately if elected again.

    This practice should be outlawed due to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of the disabled and elderly under the guise of protection especially when the courts are appointing all the protectors. There is no doubt that this story is laced with Fraud and Corruption. Her story is not the only one, time and time again there is another story. Many people, including Ms. Luck and Latifa have testified before our lawmakers informing them of the disgrace and disaster they have created of our Judicial system in Probate. Unfortunately, in all our efforts we are met with opposition by the very judges who claim they are protecting the elderly and disabled from their own family members, and never acknowledging the exploitation that they allow to occur within their courts and by those they appoint.

    The court appointed protectors are much better protected under the Guardianship Law than the actual person guardianship was created to protect. The Texas lawmakers should go back and review the hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee of Feb. 10, 2005 when 3 Texas probate judges, and 1 guardianship attorney testified before them claiming that APS was failing to protect the elderly and vulnerable of Texas. The lawmakers fell for the privatization of guardianships, and the need for the courts to step in and protect the elderly and disabled by these probate courts. Creating a Guardianship Certificaiton Board that would certify guardians to be appointed when a person had no family or anyone willing or able to be a guardian. This was all about creating a business industry of vulnerable people who cannot defend themselves, obviously it wasn’t about protecting the elderly as explained in Ms. Luck’s case and in many others. Unfortunately the lawmakers fell for it hook line and sinker and have created a system of judicial abuse under the guise of protection.

    Today, not even APS can protect the elderly or disabled from the court appointed protectors, the only one who can is the judge, the very judge who appointed the court appointed protectors. The Guardianship Certification Board is charged to certify guardians and ensure they meet the requirements to possess the ethics and professionalism for the business of providing guardianship services. They cannot remove a guardian, however they can investigate complaints which many people aren’t even aware that this entity exists. They have the authority to sanction a guardian by revoking, suspending or terminating the certification. There is no law that requires the GCB to inform a judge that a court appointed guardian’s certification has been sanctioned. Therefore this type of guardian can and will most likely continue to be paid guardianship services fees from the estates of the person or any income of the person. Kinda defeats the purpose of certifying a guardian as it seems. Under this circumstance it appears to be just another taxpayer expense with no value of it’s intent and purpose. It is mandated and required by law that guardians be certified to receive payment. Payments made in many cases from the taxpayers, that ultimately allows a vulnerable person to remain under a bad guardian if a judge chooses not to remove the guardian he appointed.

    It is obvious this has become a racket, specifically when probate judges create their own guardianship programs, and chose to appoint a paid guardian over a family guardian. More family members are being disqualified from being a guardian, and are having their guardianships revoked in secret hearings without any notice to increase head count for their business industry. Placing vulnerable people under the care of paid guardians who are only required to visit their wards one time a month, where many are being warehoused in nursing homes or other institutional care for the convenience of the business of private professional guardians, certified guardians, for profit guardianship programs, or non profit guardianship programs. Court initiated guardianships have increased drastically since 2005, a true indicator of a very profitable business of people who lose all their civil, constitutional and human rights due to age or disability, including all their assets in Texas probate courts.

    Court initiated Guardianships have also become a practice of head hunting, targeting widows such as Ms. Luck, widowers, veterans, wealthy and the disabled. Finders fees for vulnerable people in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, in the park, at the zoo, a doctors office, just about anywhere, claims to APS just for the purpose of initiating a guardianship is also big business if the purse is big enough. This is the system our lawmakers were convinced that was needed by those who participated in the 2005 hearing all in the interest of protecting the people APS failed to protect.

    It is unfortunate that our lawmakers were made to believe that they were or are protecting vulnerable Texans under the business industry of guardianship. They have all systems in place to protect them from their own family members, but continue to fail in creating a system to protect the elderly and disabled from the court appointed protectors.

    Guardianship has lost it’s intent and purpose, what is obvious is that it has become a racket, it is shameful and a disgrace of a judicial system laced with discrimination, the legalization of abuse, neglect and exploitation by court appointed protectors for our most vulnerable Texas citizens and their families, specifically when probate judges become the ultimate guardian of a person and their assets who are allowed to participate in the legislative process to ensure their own special interests under biased and unethical practices.

    The new laws going into effect after this legislative session will no doubt have severe consequences to the very people guardianship was created to protect, however this legislative session there were NO new laws for added protections to the elderly or disabled, they were about attorneys fees, and protections for the court appointed protectors who practice in the business industry of guardianship. Advocates and victims were in opposition of the bill, unfortunately HB 2080 passed into law and was signed by Governor Perry.

    A special thanks of appreciation to Rep. Stephanie Klick for her efforts and compassionate attempt of added protections for the disabled and elderly in court initiated guardianships. Her bill HB 2600 never made out of the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee which would have provided additional due process rights under Court Initiated Guardianships, unfortunately it was opposed by the Probate Judges, and the Real Estate Trust and Probate attorneys of the Texas State Bar Committee on Guardianships who personally testified in opposition. The testimony was clear and obvious of whose best interest guardianship is truly all about. Unbelievable but expected in Texas.




    •  
      Texas Probate Victim

      Good points Debby. I know where you see the legislators being scamed, after watching and documenting Steve Fields from Tarrant spin out those mistruths to the Senate Jurisprudence Committee in 2010. But really, do you think the likes of Hartnett have been scamed? The Tarrant guardianship ring is deeply entrenched
      http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/2010/09/17/judge-ferhill-and-the-tarrant-co-guardianship-ring/
      and because of the power and money involved, there’s probably nothing that can be done about all this except to let the abuse and exploitation continue until a popular human rights activist uprising calls for an accounting through a Nuremberg Trials sort of cleansing.




  15.  
    weekly reader

    There are several problems here: 1) the first is, that in order to be victimized, one must be declared “incapacitated” by a medical professional. I have seen too many cases of “professional” bias one way and another on this issue. There should be very strict standards and metrics applied by disinterested professionals, rather than relying on a medical professional who is subject to undue influence. 2) Judges often grant guardianship to qualified family members but in this case, Mrs. Luck is at odds with her immediate family since they are (or were) suing her for alleged Trust mismanagement. 3) Mrs. Luck has apparently ” hired and fired many attorneys, accountants etc.”, according to this article ,and did not seem to be in a position of security vis-a-vis a longstanding relationship with a creditable legal/accounting professional who could a) manage her trust issues in such a way as to avoid family and legal conflict and b) vouch for her capacity to handle her finances–based upon a long standing relationship. At least, in this case some of the wounds are “self inflicted”. I fear that her own attorneys will also be billing for large sums and finally declare that the case is beyond their ability to truly help the lady. The family must be waking up by now also and realizing that their anticipated “inheritance” is also getting eaten up by the probate legal-professional guardianship system. My advice to Mrs. Luck is to bury the hatchet with some honest decent family member, and have that indiviual apply for guardianship (potentially a win-win situation).




    •  
      weekly reader

      $500,000 of attorneys fees in less than two years is astounding and deserves further investigation.




      •  

        What people do not understand about how Ms. Luck became trapped under a Court Initiated Guardianships is that the law is:

        a court only has to have probable cause to believe a person is an incapacitated person, and the person does not have a guardian in this state, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem or court investigator to investigate the person’s conditions and circumstances to determine whether the person is an incapacitated person and whether a guardianship is necessary.

        Who are the investigators? Those appointed by the court.

        If after the investigation the guardian ad litem or court investigator believes that the person is an incapacitated person and that guardianship is necessary, the guardian ad litem or the court investigator shall file an application for the appointment of a guardian of the person or estate or both, for the person.

        Who believes the person is incapacitated? The court appointed guardian ad litem or court investigator.

        Who can file an application for the appointment of a guardian of a person or estate or both? The court appointed guardian ad litem or court investigator.

        Once the Court appointed guardian ad litem or the court investigator believes the person is an incapacitated person, they file an application for the appointment of a guardian for both the person or the estate or both. When the application is filed, the court once again appoints an attorney ad litem to legally represent the person. The person does not get the chance to hire their own attorney, this is where the trap begins. Ms. Luck did in fact hire her own attorney, however he was threatened with disbarrment and once again the court has the authority to approve if a person can hire their own attorney after he or she has appointed an attorney ad litem. In Ms. Luck’s case, the decision was already made that Ms. Jaimeson would be her attorney ad litem, therefore Ms. Luck was not allowed to use her own attorney to represent her. Also in her case, her money had been taken already so she had no financial resources available to defend herself. This happens when the guardian ad litem or court investigator begin their investigation.

        They put all the money on hold, so the person has none to defend themselves, all the people representing a person under probable cause tthat they believe the person is incapacitated are court appointed.

        The Luck case is a clear case of violations to her constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment. She was not provided with a fair due process under the law when she was not allowed to hire her own legal representation to defend her on her capacities or abilities.

        Her rights were removed without being placed under a guardianship of the person, her estate was guardianized for the benefit of court appointed attorneys, which is quite obvious as this story was told.

        Perhaps this provision of the law will make it clearer of how this has become the racket it has:

        The law states that a court that appoints a guardian ad litem may authorize compensation of the guardian ad litem from the available funds of the proposed ward’s estate regardless of whether a guardianship is created for the proposed ward, if the court determines the ward or proposed ward is unable to pay for services provided by the guardian ad litem, the court may authorize compensation from the county treasure. So in some cases the taxpayers eventually pay for the compensation of a guardian ad litem who at the time believed the person was incapacitated.

        A guardian ad litem is an officer of the court, therefore he should be paid by the court, not from the person’s estate. However, in most cases a guardian ad litem is an attorney, he or she is not legally representing the person in due process, he or she represents the interests of an incapacitated person upon his or her belief that the person is incapacitated and needs a guardian. The guardian ad litem shall protect the incapacitated person in the manner that will enable to court to determine what action will be in the best interests of the incapacitated person. And the law also states that the guardian ad litem of an incapacitated person is immune from civil liability from creating, modifying or terminating a guardianship. So in layman’s terms this means the guardian ad litem has much more authority to determine the outcome of the incapacitated person under probable cause, than the court appointed attorney ad litem who should be legally representing the rights of the person in a fair due process.

        An attorney ad litem is required to report legal fees to the Office of the Court of Adminstration, where there is no law that requires a guardian ad litem to do so, even if the guardian ad litem is an attorney. We have also seen some cases where a court will also appoint a certified guardian as a guardian ad litem. So in Ms. Lucks case the guardian ad litem appointed was in charge of the outcome of this case under his probable cause to believe that Ms. Luck was an incapacitated person. The attorney ad litem was also paid substantial fees to legally represent Ms. Luck, which no doubt turned out that Ms. Luck’s money was much better protected for them than Ms. Luck. In this court, it is obvious that Ms. Luck and her family was only the excuse to take her money. Ms. Lucks story is no different than so many others in Texas. Sadly not even Ms. Luck or her family will ever recover the money taken from a guardianship case which initially was not about guardianship at all, it was all about legally stealing money under the Texas Laws of Guardianship. Its thas taken years and several legislative sessions to create this racket under the pretense of protecting elderly and disabled people from being exploited by their own family members and friends.

        Bottom line is that guardianship is so restrictive and should be of the last and final resort. An issue which is never exercised or considered under a Court Initiated Guardianship. This practice has opened the door for targeting people, many have lost thier homes and all thier assets just to pay for the legal fees and end up dependent on the taxpayers living in instutitional care once everything is all gone. There are many disturbing cases of judicial abuse coming out of Tarrant County, El Paso, Denton, San Antonio, Houston and Austin. The complaints are all the same, abuses to the elderly and disabled by their paid guardians, judicial abuse, fraud, exploitation, and mostly the loss of a person rights and the rights of the family to defend their vulnerable loved ones.

        New law will eliminate the possibility of family members from contesting Court Initiated Guardianships due to enforcing those contesting the decision of a court appointing their own players to make any all the decisions for their family member being forced to give up all their financial resources, and their person to strangers that the courts appoint.

        It is entrapment enforced against a person, whether they are incapacitated or not, and all under a law that was created to protect those who could not protect themselves. Definately a mastermind of deceit in the name of GREED.

        Join us in our efforts to reform guardianship law in Texas and throughout the country. Contact us at: http://www.guardianshipreform. org. GRADE- Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled & Elderly

        One day we and our families may also become a victim of a Court Initiated Guardianship or a Court Appointed Paid Guardian.




  16.  
    weekly reader

    The irony of atty Monika Cooper filing the inquiry/complaint re: Mrs. Luck’s alleged incapacity and her ShannonGracey law partner Lisa Jamieson being appointed by King as the Guardian stinks to high heaven. Jameison is also the (corrupt?) boob who “forgot” (yeah–sure!) to pay the $175.00 filing fee to appeal the judges decision of incapacity resulting in the appeal being dropped and ultimately resulting in $500,000 in attorney fees two years later… sounds like crooked vampire attorneys stealing from an old woman–this begs for some national exposure like 20/20 or Sixty Minutes.




  17.  
    weekly reader

    Atty David Bakutis’ resume states that he teaches “Ethics in Probate Law” Really? By threatening defenseless old ladies with loss of their constitutional rights through Guardianship during depositions? All of these clowns are listed as Texas Monthly “Super Lawyers”. BTW…




  18.  

    There is no such thing as Ethics or Conflicts of Interest in Probate Courts , it doesn’t seem to play a role in Probate Courts and appears not to be allowed!!!

    What we hear from honest, professional and ethical attorneys, is if you don’t play the game we play, your not allowed to play with us. This is why many attorneys won’t defend contested guardianship, especially if it was a Court Inititiated Guardianship. They are smart enough to know what this is all about, and they don’t want to ripp off the families anymore than they already are. Believe it or not there are still some professional attorneys in Texas.

    Is there a story book on “Ethics in Probate Law”? This goes along with Ms. Jaimeson being a member, of the Real Estate Trust & Probate Law with the State Bar, I think she was president of a Committee, a Legislative Committee if I remember correctly. We saw the REPTL in action opposing Rep. Klicks bill, and naturally in support of the bill that will create and support more attorneys fees for probate and guardianship attorneys. Seems like a conflict of interest when they create the bill and ask a legislator to carry it, which is what the probate judges do also.

    It’s all about a good law that once was available to help vulnerable people, but it is now all about a bad law that is MONEY and GREED using the vulnerable people to get it.

    What a shame.




    •  
      weekly reader

      You need to bring this to the attention of Ms.Luck’s state representative and state senator. Mrs. Luck’s personal attorneys have no court standing but can present the important facts and time line to the representatives, especially with the ethically questionable and apparent self serving incompetent representation of court appointed Ms. Jameison. BTW, the court visitor is usually a social worker but can also be from APS and does not have the final word on competence – which can only be determined by a medical professional. The court visitor usually identifies at risk issues (Ms. Luck is elderly, lives alone +/- health problems, +/-cognitive isuues +/-orientation to day time place , memory issues , presence or absence of exploitative parties etc.). The court visitor cannot be appointed as guardian.




  19.  
    Suzanna

    Contact GRADE to work with them in legislative and other actions.
    http://www.guardianshipreform.org/

    The media exposure in 2010 really disturbed the probate “system” in Tarrant County.
    These kinds of judges need opposition when they run for office. In Tarrant County this happens in 2014.

    In addition to the elderly, disabled adults are being targeted for court guardianships simply due to their disability( this is in direct opposition to the ADA) . There are frequent secret hearings when only one party is present. Far too many of the private, professional guardians, appointed by these courts have no interest whatsoever in the well being of the ward. Wards often live in conditions most families would not want their dogs to experience . When families report abuses, they are totally cut off from their loved ones – as Ms Harvery reports above- guardians playing GOD.

    The providers ( nursing and group homes) have great power with the court ( you scratch my back…. and ….. ) and with the legislature – employing lobbyists.

    Experience with professional guardians shows families that these so called “professionals” are willing to lie to any extreme. They cast family members as the bad guy – all in a CYA game. When the formal complaint process obviously shows the guardian at fault – they are protected by DADS( department of aging and disability), the judges appointing them, and the Guardianship Certification Board. The state board is packed with those who benefit in protecting the guardian, and demonstrate no empathy or caring for the vulnerable ward.

    Even if one has the huge budget to pay an attorney and court costs, families find that there is no attorney willing to go against the court – due to the retaliation the judge will exact against them. The few attorneys taking a ward/family’s case (believing there is some justice in Tarrant County), find themselves quickly frozen out of appointments from the court. Some even find they need to practice law elsewhere – out of the county or state.




  20.  
    Advocate4

    The folks who have previously commented, telling the public what good public servants these judges have been ( against all obvious evidence to the contrary) are very quiet at present.




    •  
      weekly reader

      It really isn’t that simple. There are some horrible Ft Worth judges, it is true,but the judge is, to a degree restricted by the information he has to deal with. The physician who examined Mrs. Luck, initially found her competent and then was asked to “clarify” (and partially change) the diagnosis by the court representative–this is the key element in Mrs. Luck’s loss of her rights in my opinion. Well meaning professionals, like some juries, may try to make everybody happy by “splitting the baby” but a defendant can’t be just “a little bit guilty” or an individual “a little bit incapacitated”. Physicians making incapacity determinations need to clearly understand what is going on and all of the consequences. It is true that an institutional physician may feel pressured to do this sort of thing –but it seems unethical– and when asked to change or alter a diagnosis when so much is at stake, a physician should decline and remove themselves from the case unless the initially diagnosis was completely in error–due to insufficient facts or data for example. It is also suggested by this article that Mrs. Luck’s family was not properly advised ( by atty Batukis ?)about the cascade of long term adverse financial effects and personal distress that goes along with a court appointed guardianship like this one. Families should also be advised about the costs, as well as the virtual irreversible nature of an institutional guardianship, and the potential cost of contesting the guardianship. It is also true that the probate law community and the caregiver community have a comfortable relationship which they do not want exposed or “disturbed”. It is DIFFICULT to impossible to find an attorney willing to “buck the system” by contesting an institutiional guardianship (they may be blackballed by the court and legal community ).That is society’s loss. This article has exposed some real “stinkers” and that is the first step. Somebody needs to step up and get Mrs. Luck out of bondage, ASAP, though.




  21.  

    Ms. Luck has testified numerous times before Human Services Committees and Judiciary Committees at the Capitol, she has contacted her representatives, this all part of the injustice because the lawmakers in their professional capacity believe judges and probate attorneys are ethical and abide by the law to tell them the truth in the Committee hearings, but there are many closed door meetings with the lawmakers going on too, just like the exparte hearings (secret hearings) occurring in Probate Courts. Investigating donations to political campaigns tells another story here. Probate Judges (not all, just the same few keep showing up) testifying against us that people are disgruntled family members and we are accused of running to our legislators instead of handling the matters in the courts which is difficult to do when the probate judges appoint all the legal representatives for the incapacitated or alleged incapacitated person, anytime there are efforts to change the law and exposing this rackert we are met with opposition from judges who are suppose to be practicing in their courts without biased and impartiality. One particular Probate judge who testified before the Senate Health & Human Services Committee in 2005 continues to show up at Committee hearings every session to defend this travesty of justice in creating this guardianship dynasty that will no doubt continue to line the pockets of the attorneys they appoint, isolate and confine the elderly and disabled from their family members by appointing their own guardianship program to be a guardian of the person, their own attorneys and buddies at the banks to be guardians of the estate, such as Ms. Luck’s case.
    This is all just part of this racket, there is much more behind the scenes, as I have said it was a mastermind of deceit and will continue all in the name of protecting vulnerable people.

    Too many people have, are and will continue to suffer from the set up promised to the legislators in 2005, it is sad that they have been scamed, and continue to be.

    People have filed complaints with Judicial Conduct Commission against some of the probate judges for their impartiality, violations of their ethical conduct and judicial canons, that is a whole story within itself. The response is to exercise the legislative process to better protect the disabled and eldery but that the judge was within the law in his decision.
    Well duh, if they create the law and also go to the legislature to put their wrongs into the law, they will never be found in violation. We see this time and time again, and then one judge says, “well it is the legislature who puts into the law”- like the legs are hunting around laws to protect judges, is that what this means????

    Judges are restricted by the information he has to deal with, not in a exparte or secret hearing they are not, exparte means no one is informed, decisions being made before it goes to hearings, especially when the judge is only listening to his court appointed guardian ad litem, attorney ad litem, court investigator, court visitor, court appointed physician. Bottom line this all has happened to throw out “clear and convincing evidence” I mean real and truthful clear and convincing evidence.

    GRADE continues to be contacted regularly, it is all the same story time and time again, and this is just not happening in Texas, this is what guardianship has become throughout the country.
    It is quite obvious that State laws are trumping Federal laws, under those circumstances crimes against the elderly and disabled will continue indefinately without reform and exposure of the entrapment, bondage, and disgrace behind the “Deception of Protection”
    in Guardianships.




    •  
      weekly reader

      You need :1) more organized talking points 2) a more sophisticated approach to the legislature perhaps through a lobbyist 3) to recognize that if the judges are untouchable others are not. The state medical board for example is a very activist body…




  22.  
    Rita Pacheco

    My 85 yr old father is in the middle of this same mess. My sister applied for permanent guardianship then for temporary guardianship stating he was in “eminent danger”. Morrisette, who was sitting in for Ferchill, appointed temporary guardians even though my father had a neurologist’s report that he could make his own decisions/NOT incapacitated and witnessed/notarized documents–POA and Declaration of Guardian for Future if Needed.

    Now, 6 months later, still under the temporary guardianship court orders, my father has regained his drivers license (passed written/driving test on first attempt) and has 3 (primary dr and 2 neurologists) physician’s certificates that state he is NOT incapacitated. Now Ferchill has granted the guardian ad litem’s motion to send my father for another exam, by a psychologist this time. At the hearing, she told the judge my father can pay for the exam, “he has plenty of money”. Will he be ordered to keep going for exams until they get one to say what they want?

    Thank you, FW Weekly, for bringing this situation to light. You have done a great service for people like me. We were hearing that we should get the best lawyers we could afford but we thought that if we provided the proper documents that my father would receive a fair decision. This article is a huge wakeup call. HELP?!?!?




  23.  

    Here is another wake up call to this mess? Those documents that people pay honest attorneys to file for alternatives to guardianships, such as those mentioned here, become a waste of time and money due to this very issue in the Pacheco case. They mean nothing once a guardian ad litem is appointed, in some courts they are terminated (new law) once an application for guardianship is filed, obviously the Declaration for Guardian if needed is also being disregarded or terminated by now. Section 679 (f) of the probate code states:
    Unless the court finds that the person designated in the declaration to serve as guardian is disqualified or would not serve the best interests of the ward, the court shall appoint the person as guardian in preference to those otherwise entitled to serve as guardian under this code. Was a person appointed as the temporary guardian or was it the Guardiansip Program GSI in Tarrant County? Beings that there is a guardian ad litem who serves to act in the interest of the alleged or incapacitated person, he or she decides what is the best interest, therefore the Declaration has no value. All those appointed by the courts have all the say, it is up to the family to prove otherwise, which is costly at best, even the best lawyers know it is impossible with the guardian ad litem serving in the interest for the person. Why does this man not have any legal representative or does he? The guardian ad litem may be an attorney, but he or she is not legal representation, he or she is an officer of the court, it appears that there is no attorney ad litem representing this man, a gross violation to Constiutional Rights of due process.

    It becomes evident that Probate Courts are not complying to due process rights protected by the U.S. Constitution in Guardianships. Once a person becomes a “ward” of the state, they lose every inalieable right as a U.S. citizen.

    Sounds like in the Pacheco case, the father was being referred to the court because he was in eminent danger, little did the applicant know that she placed her father and family in more danger than before. More than likely the psychologist will be court appointed, just as in Ms. Luck’s story and many others, then all the man’s doctor reports will have no value either. If he has plenty of money, the guardian ad litem will continue to send him for evaluations, this will also ensure payments to the guardian ad litem everytime he has to keep going to court to prove he is not incapacitated. Be careful in contesting the guardianship because new law in effect 9/1/13 can cause the contestor to be labeled as notoriously bad, and the contestor can be ordered to pay all the legal fees as what the judge believes is equitable and just. There is no cap or scale for fcourt appointed attorneys fees in this racket.

    These new laws were supported by probate judges in Committee hearings this session, it is obvious whose side they are on, which is those they appoint over the people who enter into their courts believing there is a justice system in their courts. Are they biased and impartial?
    Do they appear to act Constitutional and ethical in their duties as representatives for the people??

    If so, they would accept the documentation prepared and the physicians certificates of capacity, release the “ward” and let him enjoy the rest of his life with all the money he earned to secure his future. Now that would be first!!!




  24.  

    My mother of 65 yrs of age placed her self voluntarily in a nursing home for back rehab. While there she was medically injured by the nursing home. She was given antipsychotics that had a adverse reaction leaving her blind and deaf. She also acquired 3 blood infections in a total of 6 weeks. I gave the nursing home notice I would be taking my mother home and caring for her myself. Upon hearing this they retaliated and brought in the social worker of Judge Ferchills court. At the time I did not know, the judge and others were on the board of Guardianship Services. The Social Worker came to the nursing home while I was visiting and told me I could not take my mother home she said I would have to file for Guardianship. After questions were asked I was told if I tried to take my mother home I would be arrested. I believed I had no chose but to file so I did and had one of my moms Dr. to fill out a form for the court to which he checked no mental illness. He did this for us believing I would b getting guardianship and taking her home. This was his recommendation that she would be better at home. When the court hearing came up my sister and I were early there was no one in the court room so we sat and waited for our atty. When our atty arrived she went to find someone and all came out of the judges chambers. This is what I would later learned would be an exparte hearing. The decision had been made that Guardianship Services would b placed guardian until I a family member took their classes for guardianship. Their was no testimony, no sworn oath, and I dont know what was said in that meeting since we were no allowed to attend. The only immediate harm my mom was in was staying in the nursing homes. She was never removed from the very drugs that made her blind and deaf although her neurologist said she had a good chance getting her eyesight and hearing back if she was removed soon. My mom was on 4 meds at home and her health was under control she had a severe back strain and needed assistance. So she chose back rehab. Mom was denied her due process rights, A court initiated guardianship cannot b done if it is because of an injury sustained by the persons who caused it. Yet in my moms case they claimed she had dementia. There is nowhere in any of her medical records that she had anything these folks claimed. We were not allowed the medical records while she was under guardianship we were kept out of everything pertaining to her. Her appointed guardian told us we were just visitors and we should just visit and leave. Several times she threaten to stop of us from visiting. The appointed guardian moved my mom to another nursing home upon being sworn in. She moved her to where as she said most of her “Wards” were so it would b easier on her. This nursing home placed my mom on 20 different meds. Moms was so heavily medicated she could not stay awake. Most visits she would sleep through. Mom was dropped in the tub and hit her head on the faucet she was sent to hospital where a CT was done. It was negative, She would be injured with bruises , black eyes, a toe nail completely ripped off . When mom was awake she begged, cried and pleated for us to take her home stated they were killing her. She was helpless and we were helpless. They kept her so heavily sedated that she was missing meals and was dehydrated. When we pleated with the guardian she would say we were interferring and she would stop our visits. The last visit to the hospital my mom was only dehydrated but she was sent there to be diagnosed with menigitis and encephalitis and that it was terminal. So the guardian after only being placed 6 weeks before never visited my mom never checked her when she had injuries placed her in hospice to be as she said “allowed to die” because we were horriable people making her suffer. Most of them felt they wouldnt want to live blind and deaf so we were the evil family. Mom herself verbalized she wanted to live. And since when to we kill people because of disabilities. other than abortions thats another story. So the Doctors who declared mom terminal were Hospice Doctors and worked at the nursing home. I finished my guardianship classes at this time and let the court know. I was told the guardian would have to withdraw as guardian so I could be place. I told the guardian this but she refused to step down. I made complaints to Judge Ferchill sent him a registered letter, emailed and mailed several complaints to him with no response from him or any of his investagators. My mom died 6 weeks later from starvation, dehydration and overmedication. I called the police but since a judge was involved not a damn thing was done. The M.ed exminer who had a supoena for medical records only took the 3 days before she died. Which only had the morphine drops. He assured me he had to get all the records I gave him a list of all the doctors and hospitals but he didnt do his job. yrs later I would find that the Medical Examiner we a coworker of the Doctors who declared my mom diein of a mental illness. I would also find that the admitting nurse of hospice was a close friend of the guardian .Every where I looked there would be conflict of interests. They were all connected covering each others actions. I have made many complaints through the years and noone will take my moms murder case. My mom never had a mental illness there were MrI done CT ‘s all were negative. I did learn at the time of her death she had a dislocated shoulder and a rotated hip. all of this under court protection. She had a bedsore. My mom was nothing but skin and bones. Her brother upon seeing his sister this way almost threw up. My Aunt was a legal secretary for a family attorney and supposedly My Aunt and Uncle sent a letter to the court saying they wanted and Independant guardian and supposedly a brother who was beneficiary of everything also requested an independent guardian. This was in the investigators report. learning all of this after my moms death. My aunt said they expected to b contacted by the courts but never were. My brothers said they never spoke with anyone from the courts. The investigators report was all lies. I also learned that my mom had life insurances. The guardian let one cancell so she could get the premiums back because it was not a cash policy. She also tried to sell my moms funeral plots but learned she would need all 4 siblings signatures. There was also a life policy with my mom’s bank that mom had upgraded to a larger amount to this day the bank will not acknowledge the amt or who claimed it. The guardian changed my brother from being beneficiary to herself as told to me by customer service of the insurance co. None of this is listed in my moms assests at the courts. they listed her as having nothing yet she had a house, furniture, a car, funeral plots, and life insurances. and her personal items. Once pulled into guardianship your rights will not b protected not even your right to life. You will get no due process of any laws, All of this being done under the color of law. Where are the human rights agencies. Our Elderly should have the same protection as everyone else. Why have you all turned your back on the elderly ? They are some of our most vulnerable citizens and if it were’nt for many of them we would not b here. Lets protect them our lives depend on it.




  25.  

    I know about Beverly’s case which occurred prior to 2005. Her pleas to help her mother from the abuse and neglect of GSI went without any consideration, other than threats that she and her sister will no longer be allowed to see their mother if she continued to contact the judge. Letters written to the judge went without any investigation or attention. Her mother died in the care of the guardians that the judge appointed. She begged to have her mother moved out of the nursing home because her mother knew she was going to die if she was not helped. She was only 65 years old!!!

    In 2005 the Senate Health & Human Services Committee heard testimony from judges and one guardianship lawyer complain that APS was failing in their job to protect vulnerable people, and therefore the privatization of guardianship would be necessary in assisting the courts to better protect vulnerable people. They claimed that APS was allowing people to live in squalor, allowing people of self neglect, etc. etc. Showing a video to the legislators of how they had found people living to sell the story to the legislators. But they failed to address how Beverly’s mother was neglected to death while under a non-profit guardianship program that the probate judges and probate attorneys had already created.

    In reveiwing the video it is sickening to hear how compassionate these guys were in protecting the elderly and disabled only to know now that people are less protected by anyone other than a judge who appoints all the protectors of the person and their estates.

    The privatization of guardianships will continue to be the “Deception of Protection” of the elderly and disabled for nothing more than the benefit of lining the pockets of unscrupulous attorneys, and special interests of campain contributions to keep this racket growing and then some.

    It is true that a guardian can purchase life insurance for a ward, there is no cap limit on the amount, those practicing under the business of guardianships pretty much become the owner of the person, all their medical records, all their assets and their rights. No family member gets this information without the guardians, there is money to be made before they die and after. The guardian will have to close out the guardianship which also occurs in many cases in hearings that no family member is informed about, especially if it is a paid guardian. Easy money in the business to isolate, medicate and rape the estate.

    Not a business that anyone should be proud of being a part of. The lawmakers may have believed they were creating a system to better protect the elderly and disabled back in 2005. All the efforts of their constituents contacting them who have become victims to this racket results in disbelief and confusion, however they fail to act to the consequences of their decisions. Is it possible they are ashamed of what they were led to believe?? I would be if I were in their shoes.




  26.  
    weekly reader

    Here is the problem with the above referenced anecdotal family stories:1) Families should not try to “get back” at each other by filing for guardianship or reporting “abuse”. The probate court is ill equipt to sort all this stuff out- and they WON’T –your elderly loved one will end up ” warehoused “in an institutional guardianship and probably dying in a crumby nursing home or hospice 2) Families need to bury the hatchet and make reasonable plans agreeable to everyone especially the elderly relative. 3) Plan ahead,way way ahead…




    •  

      There was no family dynamics going on. There was no one there to contest me being placed as my mothers guardian. It started with the nursing home neglect and abuse and me letting them know I would b taking my mother home to care for her myself. Someone at the nursing home called the Social Worker at the court to stop me from taking my mother home. The nurse verbalized to my sister and I that we didnt care about our mother we just wanted to take her home to file a lawsuit. The next thing we know the Social Worker showed up and said our mother was under court protection and we could not take her home and threatened to have us jailed if we did. Later that day we would learn that the Social Worker and the Court Social Worker were good friends. We were told if we wanted to continue to make any medical decision or any decisions about our mom we would have to file guardianship. She told us how to go about doing that .




      •  
        Texas Probate Victim

        OK. God rest her soul Beverly. What was the name of the county employee/social worker? What is the name of the judge who ignored your pleas to help your mother?




        •  

          I did mention the Judge name and will do so again Judge Ferchill and his Social Worker/ Assistant Court Investigator at the time was Arlene Shorter and Angela Bedford was the Atty ad litem who did nothing but file papers. When Angela called me she did not ask What plans or how I would take care of my mother she only wanted to know about her assests and Insurances. She said we would talk more about my mother after I gave her all the info about my mother. After giving her everything I knew she blew me off and said thank you and hung up. She should have been more concerned if my mom would have been well taken care of it I was appointed. Angela Harvey was my attorney . After the court hearing she told my sister and I that she was a guardian for Guardainship Services. She also said the reason ” of the record” were her words: I didnt get my mom because GSI was in desperate need of funding. I spoke with Angela H. again when my mom was put in hospice, Angela said legally they cant do it if only one person in the family objects. But they did. She also said she would schedule a meeting with them, her, and us that meeting would not b scheduled due to conflicting schedules with them. My mothers last words to us was I now they are killing me. I know I have to die but I dont want to die. My mother had nothing terminal. I do have those records now that took me years to get. I was stonewalled every where I went . Half the medical team on the Hopice had no licences. I did report to boards with complaints but was told it would b criminal the police wont do anything based on the Medical Examiners claim . If he would have gotton all the medical records to determine the exact cause of death he would see all the meds she forced to take , all the interactions, all the black box warnings and even some of them were given more than FDA approved and not to be given to the Elderly and so forth. They poisened her to death under the color of law. Im am absolute certain that many Elderly have been put to death their families never suspecting. If they want to cover up something they can find a hospice to accomadate them. Humm that hospital has since been closed because of the many lawsuits filed against them. They went bankrupt. that nursing home has changed hands at least 3 times after my mom’s death and continu es to change.




          •  
            weekly reader

            The secret that most people don’t realize is that the time for a relative or child to get POA, guardianship/conservatorship is when the elderly parent/relative can agree to it. The consequences of not having family control are frequently disasterous. It is often like having a “living will”–in that all of this needs to be planned in advance, preferably with the advice of a family attorney well versed in this area. Transparency with other siblings is important. Parents and other relatives often will be “misinformed” by “friends “and others-some not so well meaning- that the child wants to put them ina nursing home. All of these issues should be thoroughly discussed, openly.




  27.  

    Durable POA, POA, Medical Directives, Physician Directives, Declarations for Guardianship if needed, living trusts, trusts, don’t mean anything and are worthless in Court Initiated Guardianships. These are “forced guardianships” where a guardian ad litem is appointed and or a court investigator is appointed at the suggestion of some one who believes a person is incapacitated and needs a guardian. All those documents are terminated in Court Inititated Guardianships, by the guardain at litem or court investigator and who in many cases are attorneys, not legally representing the person but as officers and court personnel and the judges.

    A case where a man spent 19,000.00 to have all his necessary documents in order should he become unable to handle his own affairs were terminated by the court in a Court Inititiated Guardianship. There was no disagreements within his family, the family was very much aware of his intentions, and the family was supported of the member of the family he chose. His only mistake was to become ill, and a social worker at the hospital made a referral to the court for Guardianship stating that he was being exploited by his own family members. Walla! That is all it took, he was placed under guardianship without even entering the court room. All his assets were frozen, and the family fell into a very expensive battle. Needless to say, he is now owned by the court appointed guardian who is being paid from his estate for the abuse, neglect and EXPLOITATION that the probate court continues to ignore. The court appointed protectors are having a field day with his money, and now no attorney will represent the family in this battle because they know that the judge is biased and not following the law. The man weighed in at 185 lbs when he went into the hospital, the court appointed guardian placed him in a mediciad nursing home where his care is paid by the taxpayers, while the court appointed protectors have conference hearings, and more hearings billing his estate for all their fees. The guardian ad litem who is an officer of the court, but is an attorney is using his own office staff for his representation as an officer of the court and billing the estate for his employees. The man now weighs 92 lbs, obviously this is an indication of how well this business cares for the people that the probate courts believe they could better protect. He is not incapacitated, but is well on his way. The family is financially devastated, and have realized that he will never get out of this arrangement until the money is all gone. Perhaps then he will be released by his captors, if he lives through it. But possibly not if life insurance has been purchased and his court appointed guardian is listed as the beneficiary.




  28.  
    Concerned Citizen

    To allow a judge to decide if a person is competent or not is absurd. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Perhaps this is why our forefathers guaranteed a trial by a jury of our peers. Maybe deciding the all important decision of competency should be granted to a jury of our peers instead of a good ole boy judge. At least in this case she would not have been thrown to the sharks.

    Maybe Rick Perry will come to the rescue, or if not, give his next opponent some ammunition to use against him.




    •  
      Texas Probate Victim

      Not a judge or jury, but a qualified medical professional not tied to the court or the guardianship ring. Guardianship is the worse intrusion of the government into the lives of people that there is. Gov Perry could have vetoed the bills.




  29.  

    In probate courts jury trials are very rare although it is in the probate code Section 643:
    Trial by jury- a party in a contested guardianship proceeding is entitled , on request, to a jury trial.

    New legislation will cost anyone all the attorneys fees paid at what the judge believes is equitable and just if a guardianship is contested, that would include asking for your guaranteed rights of due process for a jury trial. It can’t get any worse than this with this racket.

    If your court appointed attorney ad litem forgets to pay $175.00 filing fee to request a jury trial such as in Ms. Luck’s case, it becomes perhaps an obsturction of justice, a violation of due process, inadequate court appointed legal representation, violations to Constitutional Rights, or predetermined outcomes of deciet in the name of justice.

    Let’s not forget that a guardian ad litem is appointed for the proposed ward or alleged incapacitated person who acts in the interest of the person as an officer of the court, and a court appointed attorney who acts to legally represent the ward, between the two are paid by the proposed ward’s or alleged incapacitated person’s estates who certainly are in the position to determine if the person will get a trial by jury that just might determine that they both were acting in their own best interest for profits, a jury trial might uncover what is going on with this racket. So very few cases go to a jury trial.

    $175.00 filing fee could have guaranteed Ms. Luck her due process rights, however her attorney ad litem collected a substantial amount after forgetting to file it or whatever the excuse was and moved on. Be careful with those court appointed attorneys a small amount of money to protect your due process rights might be too much to spend out of your own money for that or it is such a small amount of money that it was not worth the inconvenience of paying attention to it.




    •  
      anne howry

      Mrs Luck had a jury trial. Oh, and a jury fee is nowhere near $175.




      •  
        Iring

        You are mistaken. There was no jury trial and no jury. It was a closed hearing




      •  
        Iring

        You are mistaken. There was no jury trial and no jury. It was a closed hearing.




      •  
        Iring

        There was no jury trial and no jury. It was a closed hearing.




      •  
        Iring

        There was no jury trial and no jury
        It was a closed hearing.
        Closed to everyone but the insiders




      •  
        Iring

        There was no jury trial and no jury.
        It was a closed hearing.
        Closed to everyone but the insiders




      •  
        Iring

        Correction
        There was no jury trial and no jury.
        It was a closed hearing.
        Closed to everyone but the insiders




        •  
          anne howry

          Perhaps you should look at the court file online. It cleary says jury trial for each day of the trial. Mrs. Luck did have more than one case ongoing so it is possible the case about the trusts didn’t involve a jury but the guardianship permanent hearing did involve one. Take a look at the records.

          Oh, and repeating your comment multiple times doesn’t make it right.




          •  
            Pattie Gilbreath

            Anne,

            Perhaps it would note worthy for you to consider that many of us posting here are living this nightmare with Mrs. Luck, as you call her, we call her Dorothy. Either through our friendships with her or through similar experiences. So for your information, MOST, if not ALL of us are all too familiar with the “online court file” as you call it.

            Having said that I will reiterate what Iring said to you “multiple” times, THERE WAS NO JURY TRIAL, NO JURY, IT WAS A CLOSED HEARING. We know what is in the records, more importantly; Dorothy knows what is in the records.

            Furthermore, even though you “think” you know something about this, it is obvious that you do not, so for future reference, if perhaps you fail to get replies to your less than knowledgeable posts, don’t take it as a victory, on the contrary madam. This subject is far too important for the likes of you and your negativity.

            Good day!




          •  
            LRing

            First, I apologize for the multiple responses above. My Ipad and this comment system don’t get along too well.

            That said. The record does show one thing but the reality is another. The hearing was closed and I believe the record reflects what was originally requested. It just didn’t happen.




          •  

            Taking a look at the records of convenience it is obvious that multiple people including Jeff Prince who wrote this article sought to investigate the issue of a jury trial. What the court file on line does show is the Lisa Jamieson was “retained” which is false, she was court appointed, how convenient is that for falsifying court records. The court documents on file do show the truth in some cases, they also show that all the legal representavies in Dorothy’s case were court appointed. It is obvious that whether there was a jury trial or not, which there was not in determining the incapacitation of Dorothy which was her purpose of requesting for a jury trial is the issue about this story and that the court never determined whether she was incapacitated. The reality of this case and this story, is that it was all done by removing her rights to defend herself in a guardianship proceeding so that her money could be legally stolen by those appointed by the court, including court appointed doctors using those convenient terms in guardianship such as “incapacitated” or in the “best interest of the person”. The catch all terms to justify the decisions of the court to destroy the futures and well being of a person and their families for nothing else but easy money to be made until it is all gone. Honestly does it really have to cost over 500,000.00 dollars of the alleged incapacitated person’s own money to determine “incapacitation” or what is in the “best interest of a person”? It should not, but then again we all know that this is not truly what guardianship is about any longer. It is a racket, a scam a beginning to look like “cash for the elderly & disabled” and their only purpose for living is for the profits of those appointed by the courts to “act in their best interest” which is ultimately decided by the judge who also decides on a jury trial.
            In this case the judge decided it was in Dorothy’s “best interest” that her money would benefit all those he appointed instead of her. That is the reality of this case and so many others.




  30.  
    Lajord

    I saw the same abuse in Tarrant County. Durable POA was marked null and void . Not only did this happen but the Guardian asked for the original Will he then proceeded to tear them up in front of my family. This is nothing but a Racket.




  31.  

    My brother had a general power of attorney in Tarrant County but the Social Worker claimed it was a Durable but did not put a copy on file.In the court order his Durable was nulled and void. There was nothing but lies in her report. There was no evidence of any of the claims she had made. Her letter was considered truthful only because she worked for the court. (guess she was a saint)”sarcasm” She was protecting the nursing home from what the Nursing home feared was a possiable lawsuit. If that would b the case (it wasnt) It was my mothers right for all the negligence, abuse, and suffering she received under there care. My giving them notice I would b taken her home to care for her myself is what set them off to stop me and involved the courts.




  32.  
    abused by judge king

    Steve M King is the most evil man I have ever come in contact with. I hope and pray he is one day investigated for his actions. He is a cancer on our judicial system




  33.  
    Victim of Judge Steven M King

    Judge Steven M King is a crooked as they come! Part of the “good ole boys club”, who does whatever benefits him. He takes pride in tearing people down, he wants you to know that he owns you. I believe whole heartedly that there are still many more victims of his abuse of power still out there. I hope and pray that all their voices are heard, as well as mine. I simply cannot believe he is allowed to stay on the bench and continue to destroy lives. I firmly believe that he will have to answer for his own crimes one day. I’d be more than happy to protest on the stairs of the courthouse! He should be exposed for the vermin he is.




    •  
      anne howry

      “Victim” and “abused”, making ad hominem attacks with nothing to back it up gives no way for anyone to verify your claims or demand change. Details would be helpful.




      •  

        Her are some details: Since this story was written in the Fort Worth Weekly our organization GRADE has received numerous calls pursuant to the judicial abuse occurring in Tarrant County Probate Courts and the court appointed attorney’s which includes the guardian ad litems who are attorneys. It appears that the Courts are beginning “head hunting” for their Guardianship Program again, many family guardians are in jeopardy of revocation of their guardianships and being removed as guardians with applications for removal of the guardian by false accusations and “without clear and convincing evidence” presented in court where it should be and not in closed hearings only to appoint GSI as a successor guardian. Their attorney’s those who can afford one are claiming the courts have their own mindset and it is most likely the family guardians will be removed. No other family members are being considered or being given the opportunity to apply for successor guardianships because of the biased and impartial decisions of the courts.

        We will be keeping tabs on this as it will be an issue with many more victims heading to the legislature in the next session in our efforts to truly protect the disabled and elderly from the court appointed protectors.

        A demand for change will eventually become the reality behind guardianship.




        •  
          G-Ship Reform Advocate - TX

          Debby.

          Please find a method to protect against retaliation upon those who expose this corruption and have elder or disabled family members. We may be able to coax those who fled the state to come back and testify. Their stories are are most horrendous, despite the lies from the judicial (3rd branch of government) players.




    •  
      Texas Probate Victim

      He wrote the book. It’s because of those in power that Tarrant County is the seedbed of guardianship abuse. Honed the practice of exploiting the disabled and elderly, destroying families, and plundering estates, in the best interests of the vultures in the guardianship cartel and no one else. Then evangelize their procedures to the rest of the world lined up to feed at the guardianship trough. Yes, Steve Fields, maybe the families are getting restless.




  34.  
    LRing

    Our State Legislators must be asleep at the switch or just don’t care about protecting old and disabled people. It is time for them to wake up.

    I sat and listened as Dorothy testified on the record before the House Civil Jurisprudence Subcommittee, The Health and Human Services Subcommittee and a subcommittee for the Senate. All of them heard her plead for their help and tell them she was being denied the right to contract and hire an attorney. In fact they heard much of this story. I and others from around the stat testified that something had to be done about the overly broad powers that were being abused and asked that they please put some checks and balances in place to prevent such abuses. A committee was formed under the Civil Jurisprudence Committee to look at the problems with guardianships and come up with some solutions. Nothing that came out of that committee addressed these problems.

    We must hold the legislators that we elect accountable and demand they do more to protect the vulnerable citizens of Texas and that they must clean up these laws and remove the loopholes they create.

    We must insist that they stop looking at their shoes and walking away when they are told of abuses and that they stop catering to special interests and start looking out for those who have elected them in the first place.




  35.  
    Advocate4

    Ms. Howry,

    This article ( not to mention the previous ones) makes it so clear what is happening in Tarrant County Probate Courts, verification is not even the issue. Change is the issue.

    Anyone truly wanting details, can easily get them from specific guardianship hearings in the legislature in 2005, 2006, 2010 ( June 24, 2010 in Senate Jurisprudence ) etc.
    It is only a matter of time until those protecting the corrupt judiciary, see that it is in their best interest to jump ship.

    The tragic part is how many more lives ( like Beverly’s mom) will be destroyed in the meanwhile. This is so like other civil rights battles .




  36.  

    We have become accustomed to avoiding dark alleys at night, circumventing dimly lit stairways, and leaving the outside lights on after dark. Who would have dreamed that we should, in the same way and to an even greater degree, fear the courthouse, its personnel, and the judges and commissioners paid for by our tax dollars and, in some cases, by our lives and health on the battlefield.

    Most of us have been lulled by the somber tones, the marbled hallways, the great learning of those therein (to say nothing of the laws of our individual states and our shared Constitution) into feeling that the courtroom must be the safest place on earth.

    Those of us who have experienced the probate courts in almost any state in the union know that that feeling of safety is an illusion. In truth, one of the most lawless places on earth is the probate court – standing before a judge/commissioner whose only concern is to efficiently clear his/her docket, amongst attorneys whose sole aim is to transfer a lifetime’s earnings into their unworthy pockets. To those seedy ends anything goes – the house is quickly (and often unnecessarily) sold, the ward is speedily transferred to a nursing home (an end sacrificed a lifetime to avoid), the “artifacts” of a life well-lived are rummaged by strangers and then “donated” to charity, medical decisions are made not with the wards’ best interest in mind, but according to what will most quickly fill the attorneys’ and the guardians’ pockets. To make these multiple thefts easier, the ward is isolated from loved ones at a time when the comfort only they can offer is most needed.

    This shameless crime will continue because it has become the new bread and butter of the legal profession, and because news media has become so diluted with the rise of cable channels and internet news. It will be exposed as baby boomers enter the ranks of the seriously elderly and more families see the crimes being committed against their loved ones and refuse to tolerate it. We can all get the process moving by letting our legislators know what is happening and demanding to know what they are planning to do to bring it to an end, by relentlessly attempting to engage media, and by actively seeking ways to inform the public as to the crimes being committed by those who should be safeguarding our vulnerable citizens.




  37.  
    Frank Covington

    You are so right Sharon. We trusted the court, expecting it to be behind us to protect our daughter. We thought it was where justice was administered. Little did we know…..




  38.  

    I just discovered parts 2 and 3 of Dorothy’s story. (Thanks to the horrors of Windows 8, I thought it was a one part article. I still haven’t found part three.) Thanks to Jeff Prince for dealing so thoroughly with the guardianship nightmare. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find newsmedia willing to commit the effort it takes to unravel the guardianship nightmare in their specific state.

    I would like to comment on one of the recurring tricks guardianships employ to avoid accountability and to obscure the issues.

    In WA State, as in most states, there are three kinds of guardians:

    1. Family Guardians – this is usually a family member(s) chosen by the ward or the ward’s family to be the guardian. This family member is then appointed by the court and subject to the laws of the states that govern guardianship. The family guardian, unlike the “professional” guardian often has to provide and pay for its own attorney, so attorneys tend to be used judiciously. The billings are carefully scrutinized by the court. If a newspaper headline refers to a guardian being charged with a crime, it will almost certainly be a family guardian. Family guardians can be good or bad, honest or predatory. The saving grace is that a bad family guardian rarely gets more than one or two opportunities for wrongdoing. This is unlike a “professional guardian” which can, over its business life, control hundreds and thousands of vulnerable lives.

    2. Lay Guardians – These are folks who have not incorporated, don’t have an office or a separate business. They are usually restricted by state law to somewhere around 5-10 clients at a time. They are governed by the same laws that govern the professional and family guardians – again with the exception of attorneys’ fees.

    3. Professional Guardians: These are guardianship companies, incorporated by the state, appointed by the courts, and fought over by the attorneys when the potential client has assets. This group of guardians commits a multitude of crimes you don’t read about, as a rule, because the guardians and their attorneys (almost always paid for by the ward) are court appointees, colleagues of the probate judge, and a variety of other conflicts of interest come into play. These guardians, in order to maintain their nonprofit status, take in a few (very few) indigent clients – usually less than five percent of their caseload. The attorneys seem to be velcroed to the guardians’ pockets – attending and billing for every conference, every discussion, every billing. The guardianship racket seems to have become their new bread and butter. With impunity they steal the clients’ homes, their assets, their savings and often their very lives. The courts’ rubber stamp of approval gives the media, the govenor, the police departments, the state attorney generals an easy way out.

    The questions to be asked when a reference is made to a “good” guardian are the following:

    1. Was the guardian a member of group 1,2, or 3?

    2. Did/does the client have assets?

    I have been following the guardianship quagmire for over ten years now, inevitably when the answer to #1 is three and the answer to #2 is yes – then the guardianship is probably criminal. It has become too easy to group the various kinds of guardians together – Group #3 stands alone in pure numbesr of victims and behavior that is almost uniformly criminal.




  39.  

    There are many associations pushing for the rights of guardians, conservatore, trustees, etc., however, like the one in California, which has been deemed by the CA Dept. of Consumer Affairs to be its main regulation writer, and force, have very little motivation to protect the vulnerable consumer, and like TX, CA has a very difficult time protecting the vulnerable consuemr of fiducairy services.

    Join the CA movement for reform: Join FIDUCIARYWATC.ORG. We work closely with NASGA.




  40.  
    paula nichols

    more propaganda and bullcrap from someone who’s obviously never suffered at the hands of a guardian of the estate. those theives don’t do it for free. by law in n.c. they’re paid 5% annually for
    ‘the commission of their duties’. it’s a reprehensible and heinous practice perpetuated by the legal system that ignores the laws set forth that should protect persons who’ve designated durable power of attorneys ncgs 32A. they do what ever they want to do have have a rotation of attorneys that know the laws as well. by the time the gavel hits the table, it’s a done deal. legalized elder abuse at the hands of dss, attorneys and the court.




  41.  
    paula nichols

    from the sound of it, it looks as if ms. luck is fully competent to handle her affairs, even now. someone needs to file for guardianship of that jackass judge. any ‘interested person’ can file, n’est ce pas?




  42.  
    lola

    At the SAME TIME, same court, same lawyers and YET I have the complete Opposite of Dorothy’s situation. Although I am disabled and recovering with severe PTSD – and I made that known, asked time and time again for an ad litem to no avail.
    Now I know why. I am poor and the estate was smaller, so I did not get an ad litem no matter how hard I asked for one.
    I saved for couple of year to hire a lawyer AS my luck would have it, I hired one of these clowns and the other represents my stepmother – over 5K later, NOTHING has been done in my case, except that the retainer is gone mostly with calls between the two lawyers, again with no results.
    All I wanted was an inventory and my fair share. NOTHING. Nothing has been done – and retainer is gone.
    Guess they figured I’d go away – unfortunately I may have to since I can’t afford this anymore.





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