GAO 2016 study on Guardian Abuse

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You may have already heard that the GAO (Governmental Accounting Office) is studying guardianship abuse again.  Their last study was in 2010 (see http://stopguardianabuse.org/gao-reports/) and they have called us wanting cases.

They are looking for guardianship abuse cases which closed from 2011 to present; and they are asking us to gather and submit them.  They want the submissions to come through NASGA, so that’s exactly what we’ll do!

We believe your loved ones case ended between 2011 and today; and this is why we are contacting you.  We are not contacting everybody; just everybody we believe meets the GAO’s requirement. We hope we’ve not left anyone out; we certainly tried not to.

What the GAO wants is an overview of the case –a profile. They will go through all cases submitted and then pick the ones they wish to specifically investigate for their study.  So, it’s not guaranteed if you submit a case, that you’ll be chosen.  But what if you are?

They do not want court documents at this point, so please don’t send them.  If they choose your case, you will have to provide court documents and evidence.  It would be helpful if you would put an asterisk ( * ) at the end of every statement you can prove with documents, so the GAO can see at a glance that you’ll be able to back up what you’re saying in your profile.  Or footnote with the name of the document at the end of your submission.  Whichever is easier for you.

Below we have instructions and a list of questions that we hope might guide you as to what the GAO would want. They will be looking for patterns of abuse, and that’s why we wanted to provide a list of questions to get people thinking of what they might include in their profile.  If you have questions, please email us at Info@StopGuardianAbuse.org.

If you do not want to participate, that’s ok too — but we would appreciate it if you’d let us know so we won’t be looking and waiting for your submission.  We hope to have all submissions ready to go by mid March, so please do your best to meet this deadline.

Please send your overview/profile to us in a PDF document as that’s the software most government officials have.

Address it to the GAO, but send it to:  Info@StopGuardianAbuse.org

Instructions, and Suggestions

The first five questions are mandatory – be sure to include your answers to the first five in the beginning of your profile as the GAO will need that info to categorize your case. The rest of the questions are just reminders and ideas to consider including in your profile – if appropriate to your case. Your profile can be as long or as short as you wish it to be. And you can include a picture, if you wish (“Before” and “After” are always good!

The GAO will read the profile and then if they decide they want more information, they’ll either contact you through NASGA or directly. If they want more information, they’ll want documentation (court records). Don’t send court records yet. Wait for the GAO to ask for them. Right now, all we’ll need is your summary of the case.

  1. Info: Submitter:
    • Name of submitter
    • email address of submitter
    • phone number of submitter and best time to call
  2. Info: Victim:
    • Name of victim
    • Victim’s relationship to submitter
    • Victim’s age
    • Age of victim
    • State of jurisdiction
    • Dates of guardianship or conservatorship
    • Summary of victim’s basic health to your knowledge
    • Is/was the victim a Veteran?
    • Has there been any press coverage of your case? If so, give the URL (or if the URL’s aren’t good anymore and you have a copy of the article(s), please attach the copy(ies)
    • Prior to the guardianship, were you the victim’s Durable Power of Attorney agent?
    • Prior to the guardianship, were you the victim’s Health Care Proxy agent?
    • Were you appointed guardian, wrongfully removed, and replaced by a different guardian?
  3. Classification:
    • Type of exploitation: Physical, Neglect, or Financial Exploitation
  4. Justification:
    • Basic reason for the guardianship (example: family dispute, theft, abuse, false APS report, hospital disagreement, nursing home…..)
  5. Type of guardian/conservator:
    • Family
    • Professional
    • Lawyer
    • Nonprofit
    • Public
    • Bank
    • Other

Below are questions just FYI. Please read them as they may jog your memory as to something you would have forgotten. You do not have to use these suggestions. We provide them only as suggestions so the GAO will see patterns of abuse.

Placement in a nursing home or other facility:

  • During the guardianship, was the victim in a nursing home, ALF, or mental facility?
  • If so, was that placement voluntary?
  • If so, was the placement necessary?
  • Did the victim have family who was ready, willing and able to take care of the victim?
  • Did the victim appear to be drugged in the facility? If so, list drugs if you know them.
  • Was the victim harmed in the facility in any way?
  • Did the cost of placement in a facility exceed the cost of the victim’s income?
  • Could the victim afford to remain at home with hired help for care?
  • Did the guardian visit the victim as required by state law?
  • Was the victim neglected by the facility? (Bedsores, clothing, etc.)
  • Did the guardian see to it that the victim have a hearing aid, glasses, teeth, etc., if needed?
  • Were you included in medical information or decision-making?
  • Did staff at the facility ignore your complaints?
  • Did the victim cry and beg to get out of the facility and go home?
  • Were you notified if the victim had an accident at the facility, became very ill or was near death?
  • Were the victim’s personal belongings stolen at the facility?
  • Did the guardian make sure the victim had proper toiletries, such as toothpaste, shampoo, etc?
  • Were you included in care plan meetings?
  • Did you complain to the Admin or Ombudsman?
  • Did the guardian place a DNR (do not resuscitate order) on the victim?
  • Did the guardian wrongfully order Hospice for the victim?

You

  • If you were the victim’s caregiver prior to the guardianship, how long had you taken care of the person(s)?
  • If you moved home to care for your loved one, were you evicted when the home was sold?
  • If you moved home to care for your loved one, was your personal property confiscated by the guardianship as well?
  • Were you wrongfully accused of abuse (physical or financial) to justify the guardianship?
  • Did the victim tell the court that he/she wanted to live with you or wanted you to be the guardian?

Fees and assets:

  • The approximate value of the estate before the guardianship
  • The approximate value of the estate after the guardianship
  • Amount of attorney fees paid by the ward during the guardianship
  • Amount of guardian fees paid by the ward during the guardianship
  • Amount of money you paid during the guardianship for legal representation to protect the victim
  • Did the guardian take over as the victim’s Rep payee?
  • Did the guardian set up a trust for the victim?
  • If so, was that trust reported on the guardian’s accountings?
  • Did the guardian spenddown the victim’s assets to qualify for Medicaid?
  • Did the guardian file for bankruptcy for the victim?
  • Did the guardian file for VA benefits for a Veteran?
  • How many lawyers did the guardian have (or hire)?
  • Were you ever sanctioned by the judge at the guardian’s request?
  • If you believed the judge treated you badly in court, did you ever ask the judge to recuse him/herself?
  • Did the victim have his/her own lawyer?
  • Did the court assign a guardian ad litem?
  • Did you run out of money because the case went on and on and you could no longer afford to pay your lawyer?
  • Do you believe your lawyer zealously advocated for you during the proceedings?
  • Was there any conflict of interest involved in the case?
  • Did you try to find a pro-bono lawyer but couldn’t?
  • Was the victim notified of the scheduled hearing to determine capacity?
  • Approximately how long was that hearing (to determine if a guardianship would be put in place)?
  • Did the AIP (alleged incompetent person) attend the hearing?
  • If so, did the AIP appear to be drugged for that court appearance?
  • Did the AIP have the opportunity to hire a lawyer of choice or ask that a lawyer be appointed?
  • Was the victim allowed to express what he/she wanted to the court?
  • Did the guardianship begin with an emergency petition when there was no emergency?
  • What happened to the victim’s personal property?
  • Was the house sold, and if so, how soon after the guardian took control?
  • Was the home sold for market value and if not, approximately what was the value of the home compared to what it actually sold for?
  • Did you have a financial interest in the home – (Was your name on the deed as part owner) – and the home sold anyway?
  • Did the guardian take out a reverse mortgage on the home?
  • Did the guardian pay the property taxes?
  • Did the guardian maintain the property properly?
  • Did the guardian file an accurate “Initial Inventory” at the beginning of the guardianship?
  • Did the guardian file the mandatory yearly accountings?
  • If the guardian was a professional, public guardian, or charity, do you know approximately how many other cases the guardian handled at the same time as your victim’s case?

Pets

  • If the victim had pets, what happened to them?
  • Was the victim isolated from family or friends?
  • Was visitation restricted or supervised?
  • If visitation was supervised, who paid for the supervisor?
  • How much was the hourly rate for the supervisor?

Help:

  • Where did you go for help?  (i.e.: police, Ombudsman, doctor, clergy, Area on Aging, APS, etc.) and what were you told?

How did the guardian treat you?

  • Did the guardian keep you informed?
  • Did you examine the guardian’s accountings?
  • Was the guardian responsive when you contacted him/her with concerns?
  • Did the guardian threaten you?
  • Did you ever petition the court to remove the guardian? If, so how did that turn out?
  • Did the guardian make up lies about you in court?

How did the guardian treat the victim?

  • Did the guardian visit the victim as required by law?

Outlandish:

  • What is the most outlandish (or the worst or cruelest) thing the guardian did to the victim during the guardianship?
  • Did the guardian call you to your loved ones bedside before he/she passed?
  • How soon were you noticed that your loved one had died?
  • Did you try to get an autopsy and were denied?
  • How long after the victim passed was the case closed?
  • Was the final accounting accurate?
  • Do you expect foul play resulting in your loved ones death?
  • Was your loved one cremated before you were told he/she had passed?

Do you have suggestions for reform of guardianship (changes in the law) that might have helped in your particular case?

Will you be able to provide documents for the GAO to study?

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Comments

  1. Michael  March 7, 2016

    The problem of guardian abuse of seniors has escalated since the last Governmental Accountability Office’s report published in 2010. We urge our readers to fill out this form and submit it to the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse so your voice can be heard.
    This problem was brought to life by Charles Pascal’s interview on the podcast radio show entitled View From the Bunker. You can listen to it at: http://www.vftb.net/?paged=2

    The article’s number is 307.

    reply

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