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Opinion: It’s time to reform probate court

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Editor’s Note:  Probate reform is not possible in my opinion.  The only solution is to abolish it altogether.  No one should have their identity stolen by court approved and appointed predators and NO ONE should be deprived of their Constitutional protection by being rendered dead in the law.  This is a money laundering scheme where estates are plundered by professional predators who prey on the elderly and the disabled to enrich themselves.  These tribunals are unconstitutional and violate numerous protected rights. 

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Originally posted on Disqus Digest

Predatory for-profit conservators often take advantage of the elderly by charging huge fees and isolating them from the community.

In 2013, a former Berkeley resident, Greg Cooke, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A physician deemed Mr. Cooke’s wife unable to care for him, and he was referred to a nursing home. A private conservator became aware of Mr. Cooke’s situation and began to petition for conservatorship. Mr. Cooke’s wife fought to retain her role as his caregiver, but ultimately, the Alameda County Probate Court assigned Mr. Cooke to the private conservator.  The conservator began billing Mr. Cooke $8,000 a month in the form of excessive fees and charges. The conservator refused to communicate with Mr. Cooke’s family regarding his condition. They refused his family visitation rights and recently sent a letter to Mr. Cooke’s wife stating that he was deceased. Yet, in spite of the letter, the conservator has continued to bill Mr. Cooke’s estate.

Our probate court system is failing seniors and people with disabilities such as Mr. Cooke. Predatory for-profit conservators are taking advantage of vulnerable community members through a system of conservatorship that is rife with elder abuse and civil-rights violations. This process is a part of a larger trend robbing families of color of their property and wealth. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and it is time to address this problem.

A conservatorship in California is a probate court proceeding where a judge appoints a caretaker for an adult unable to care for him or herself.

Once a conservatorship is established, the caretaker (legally termed a ‘conservator’) has nearly total control over the person put under his or her care (a ‘conservatee’).

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Exploiting the elderly — a lucrative practice

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new-logo25By Angela V. Woodhull

 

 

10468201_687314554677465_9114756285200928886_nFew of us would enjoy having the bulk of our entire lifetime of savings converted into attorneys’ fees during the golden years of our lives. Yet that is happening with such frequency that the offspring of many of the elderly victims are gathering to speak out against ageism and the involuntary redistribution of assets.
One of the most famous occurred in Phoenix, Ariz., where 83-year-old Marie Long, was wrongly declared “mentally incompetent” (an astonishingly frequent occurrence in the courts where lots of money is involved). Subsequently, her professional guardian and the guardian’s attorneys spent all of Long’s money, $1.3 million, in less than two years. Most of Long’s money went for attorneys’ fees
Most of us are now familiar with foreclosure scams, unscrupulous homeowners associations and family court abuses. But few are aware of the lucrative corporate business of professional guardians and their attorneys gorging themselves on the assets of the elderly.
The Internet abounds with information about court-sanctioned predatory professional guardians and attorneys posted by groups such as the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, the National Organization to End Guardianship Abuse, Estate of Denial, and ANGER (Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform)
Ageism is the new frontier of exploitation. This new civil rights movement promises to affect all of us at some point, since every one of us expects to grow old.
Few of us would enjoy spending our golden years imprisoned in a marginal nursing home while unscrupulous attorneys and their guardians gouge our assets.
The American Association of Retired Persons has tenuously addressed this noteworthy issue, and the Government Accountability Office recently released a 57-page report about financial exploitation of the elderly. Increased public awareness is the first step to ending court-sanctioned predatory guardianships, ageism, and the involuntary redistribution of assets.

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