Court Reform as Legal Guardians Abuse Older Adults
Terri Black had always planned to care for her widowed father in her home if he ever became too frail to care for himself. In June 2013, Mrs. Black, an only child, decided it was time: Her father’s longtime companion in Las Vegas had informed her that she could no longer handle his dementia, diabetes and other health issues, and asked the daughter to take him.
Not long before, Mrs. Black discovered that the companion, Helen Natko, had transferred $200,000 from her father’s bank account — a move that would eventually end in a criminal conviction.
But when Mrs. Black and her husband, Richard, flew to Las Vegas to take her father, Delford Mencarelli, to their home in Cornelius, N.C., Ms. Natko refused to let them in the house, according to an account Mrs. Black filed with the Clark County District Court, in Nevada. The Blacks called the Las Vegas police, and the officers who showed up told Mrs. Black that her only recourse was obtaining legal guardianship.
And thus began a harrowing two-year odyssey in the guardianship system. Soon after Mrs. Black filed a court petition, Ms. Natko countered with her own petition. A judge ordered a trial and appointed a temporary professional guardian. Mr. Mencarelli continued to live with Ms. Natko.
Mrs. Black’s experience is far from unusual: The Government Accountability Office has found that state guardianship systems across the country are rife with exploitation. State courts appoint guardians to protect the vulnerable, but the G.A.O. has identified hundreds of cases of negligence, as well as physical and financial abuse.
In Mrs. Black’s case, the guardian set a schedule for telephone calls between father and daughter. Once, Mrs. Black recalled, when she sought permission to take her father to a restaurant, the guardian and lawyers on both sides negotiated the terms, racking up, she estimated, $2,500 in fees. “I was treated like a criminal for wanting to take my dad out for dinner,” Mrs. Black said in an interview. The outing never occurred."
What a horror story and there are so many of these. When should a child take charge? If the parent lives with someone, how do the children monitor the situation? When do you discuss "power of attorney and financial changes. I think the answers to all of these is to keep communication lines open and used regularly and make the safety changes asap.
Does happen a lot, nyadm, especially when there is "some" money involved but how and when did this "companion" transfer that money ?
Seems the daughter may have waited too long before she took action.
If kids want to take care of their parents, then they have to keep up with the visits and close communication. They have to know what is going on and they should have a conversation with the parents to set up legal actions when things do go south.
POAs can be set up, activated and put into action at a moments notice, same thing with health care POAs. If a parent has assigned these things to an adult child, they are duly notarized and dated, done when the parent is cognitive, then any shenanigans some other person might pull on the parent when they are vulnerable can be legally and criminally challenged.
Since my mother was rather vulnerable all her life - deaf, poorly educated, with some mental conditions, I made the decision to not be too far away from her - about 40 miles. I had to have this conversation with my husband - and we both agreed - she would not live with us but we would make sure she was well care for.
Until famiies begin to start talking about this issue and doing some planning then those vulnerable seniors are always gonna be a mark for those who would and can abuse them.
"....Seems the daughter may have waited too long before she took action.....".
".....According to a new Caring.com survey, only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. For those with children under the age of 18, the figure is even lower, with just 36 percent having an end-of-life plan in place.....".
"...Why is everyone a victim? Take personal responsibility for your life..."