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Caring for Elders: Heartbreak and Guardian Abuse

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Posted: September 15, 2019 at 10:12 am   /   by   /

The elderly in American society shouldn’t have to plan for the loss of their rights and their estates in their old age. But the current guardianship system threatens the retired community with just that.

Guardian abuse came about from a broken system. States often provide guardians for when the elderly and incapacitated need outside care. County or state courts appoint them to take care of their wards either personally or financially.

But the system failed thousands of people by allowing dishonest people and corrupt politicians to handle guardianship. Public guardians cut off wards from communication with their families, charge massive fees, and in some cases, cause the death of their wards.

A System Motivated By Greed

Not all guardians commit these atrocities. However, more and more victims report guardian abuse every day.

“It’s nothing personal, it’s all about the money,” says Charlie Pascal, whose mother-in-law was a victim. “That’s what I tell all the victims. You have to get past it.”

The National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA) writes that guardianship laws threaten “the health and wealth to our elderly and disabled citizens.” Director Elaine Renoire said that while people are working to pass laws, “legislation is slow moving, so we’re still at it.”

Guardianships For No Reason

The system supposedly helps those that need it. But what happens when those that don’t get caught?

When Mary Whitten and her sister, Cos Skaife, dealt with their uncle’s guardianship in the State of Pennsylvania, they had no idea how much was involved. The two collected horror stories of wards over-medicated and isolated from their families by unscrupulous guardians.

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Guardians From Hell: Investigation of systemic guardianship abuse in Northern Michigan

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The completely legal, utterly grotesque system for undermining the rights of the elderly

At 92 years old, Virginia “Jean” Wahab hadn’t lost any of the vitality and health she maintained throughout her life. She raised two daughters as a single mom and made a home for them in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, Michigan. Wahab worked on her feet and didn’t retire from her job at a local family restaurant until she was 88.

Fiercely independent, Wahab was quite happy living at home after retirement. She had a healthy social life. She did her own grocery shopping and chores. She so rarely needed to pay a visit to a hospital that her health insurance was barely touched.

Her eldest daughter, Mimi Brun, converted to Judaism at the age of 18. She went on to become a prolific Jewish artist, who sold her work all over the world. In 2010, she began to establish art schools for children under 12 in France and then Chicago. Although Brun was estranged from her younger sister, she and her mother were extremely close. Wahab was Catholic, but Brun noted that she had the fastidious nature of a Jewish mother.

Wahab’s legal affairs were in order including a durable power of attorney she had signed in January 2016 which named Brun as a patient advocate (the handler of her medical needs) as well as giving her daughter charge of her financial affairs should she ever become incapacitated. Wahab’s home was also registered in Brun’s name in a quit claim deed signed by Wahab on Dec. 29, 2014.

The two talked on the phone every day. Brun particularly relished visits with her mother during which she would gift her a piece of art. Wahab was an eager collector of Brun’s work.

That was two years ago. Everything has changed since then. Continue reading on TABLET here!

 
1) On June 6, 2016 a petition was filed for guardianship a Waterford, MI nursing home, Lourdes Senior Community, for a back-due bill owed by a short-term rehab patient there Virginia Wahab- there is no Michigan statute which supports this.

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