What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? Florida
The gulag of guardianship: the legal system meant to protect our elderly is a national disgrace. — Money Magazine
We'd like to alert you to a growing problem in America. It's adult guardianship. It strips seniors (and the disabled) of nearly all of their rights and, with little oversight, the abuse and fraud is out of control. Please read this important information below and tell all your friends.
If you have no assets and little income, you are safe from adult guardianship. Guardianship is all about money.
Guardianship "protects" your assets from misuse and you from exploitation. That is its stated purpose. There are statutes in every state which cover the conduction of guardianship. These laws are designed to control the behavior of the courts and the guardian. Guardianship is a legal proceeding which puts the person under guardianship at the mercy of the courts and the guardian. A guardian is charged with the legal right and duty to care for a person who is determined to be unable to care for themselves.
The potential for exploitation and neglect in guardianship is enormous. For that reason, every state in the nation has passed laws designed to control the conduction of a guardianship.
These laws are universally ignored.
Imagine the effect of giving someone unlimited and unsupervised access to your money with little or no oversight. Imagine having someone determine every aspect of your life. If you or a well meaning relative try to fight this system, the court allows the guardian to use your money to fight you! You are effectively imprisoned in a system designed for your “protection.”
Money Magazine refers to the "gulag of guardianship" and calls it "a national disgrace."
It is a system riddled with abuses now. It will, if possible, get even worse as baby boomers provide a stream of new victims.
Across America, and particularly here in Florida, with its large retirement community, is system infested with abuse and fraud. If you've got a nest egg for your retirement, watch out! A professional guardian or an heir may get control of your money by alleging that you can no longer manage your affairs. You pay the court costs for this charade. Those examining you won’t consider illness or the effects of drugs on your wits. Forget "due process."
Should your guardian be predisposed to fraud and abuse, there's very little you can do. You are at the mercy of your court-appointed guardian. There are a few rights that you keep. One is the right to privacy. Should a family member want to investigate suspicions of embezzlement, this right to your privacy is invoked. Convenient isn't it?
In 2003, after hearing guardianship horror story after horror story, the Chairman of the The Senate Committee on Aging called for a United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on guardianship. The report indicates that only four courts in our entire country have exemplary guardianship programs: Broward County, FL., Rockingham County, N.H., San Francisco County, CA., and Tarrant County, TX. Is your county among these?
Once under guardianship, you have less rights than a criminal.
1. The right to marry - STRIPPED
2. The right to vote - STRIPPED
3. The right to apply for government benefits - STRIPPED
4. The right to have a driver's license - STRIPPED
5. The right to travel - STRIPPED
6. The right to seek or retain employment - STRIPPED
7. The right to contract - STRIPPED
8. The right to sue and defend lawsuits - STRIPPED
9. The right to manage property or to make any gift or disposition of property - STRIPPED
10. The right to determine his or her residence - STRIPPED
11. The right to consent to medical and mental health treatment - STRIPPED
12. The right to make decisions about his or her social environment or other social aspects of his or her life - STRIPPED
You may believe your health care surrogate, your durable power of attorney, and a pre-need guardianship will protect you. They won't. A guardianship will nullify the best of plans.
What does it take to become a professional guardian in Florida?
1. 18 years old or older
2. No criminal record
3. 40 hour course
In 2005 there's going to be a simple test. There's no license required.
Want to fight it? Call Elder Abuse. Nothing. Call the Police: "It's a Civil Case". No one listens to your plight. The guardian will use your money to fight to keep you as their "ward". Your family wants a different guardian? The guardian is likely to accuse your family of abuse and prevent them access to you. Judges frequently rule in favor of the guardian, even if that guardian has a trail of civil cases and very suspicious activity.
You are a target because you have assets. You don't necessarily have to be very old. You can even be quite lucid. That won't stop these predators. When it comes to removing your rights and your money, these folks are experts. It is a very rare and lucky individual who is able to regain their rights. Unfortunately, the process still removes most of their assets by guardian charges and attorney fees fighting to keep you in the gulag.
The following are some quotes about guardianship abuse and fraud from highly respected sources:
"This [guardianship] is an area ripe for fraud and where most fraud abuse has in fact occurred." — Karleen F. DeBlaker, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pinellas County, Florida (4/2004)
Reports of guardians stealing from their wards' bank accounts and other wise abusing guardianship powers are surfacing with disturbing regularity. 'This problem is going to get bigger and bigger,' says E. Bentley Lipscomb, AARP's Florida state director and a former state secretary of elder affairs. — GUARDIANS DRAWING INCREASED SCRUTINY, AARP Bulletin
It is a system that in practice often serves lawyers over clients. Even as the court's lax oversight allows guardians to neglect their responsibilities, it also permits some lawyers to take unnecessary control of people's lives. —Washington Post, 2003
The current system does not work. This reality is most apparent when a wealthy individual falls victim to these involuntary proceedings and his or her wealth becomes a ripe plum to be shared by the Judge’s favorites. — Diane G. Armstrong, Ph.D., excerpt of prepared statement before the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging, February, 2003. Author of The Retirement Nightmare: How to Save Yourself from Your Heirs and Protectors: Involuntary Conservatorships and Guardianships.
The denial of these rights is the consequence of a court determination that an individual is legally "incompetent" or "incapacitated" and the appointment by the court of a guardian to act as surrogate decision maker on the person's behalf. The real tragedy is that mounting evidence suggests that many of these individuals — having been stripped of their right to self-determination — are being poorly served, and even victimized and exploited by the very persons or agencies appointed to protect them and to make decisions on their behalf. — House of Representatives, Select Committee on Aging Report
"... older Americans are being robbed of their freedom and life savings by a legal system created for their protection." and "Although relatives are the most common exploiters, the damage they cause generally stays within the confines of their own families. By contrast, greedy professional guardians can wreak havoc on a far larger scale. In many states, there are few prerequisites for entering the guardianship business: no special training, no licensing process, no enforceable professional standards." — AARP: The Magazine, January/February 2004
"These are not isolated, occasional blips. This constitutes a significant portion of the cases out there. They were flat-out rip-off situations." — Robert L. Aldridge, elder law attorney and a member of ElderLawAnswers.com
Re: forced incompetency: Visit assisted-living facilities [and retirement communities] and establish employee contacts; obtain voluntary limited financial guardianship; if there is money in the estate, do paperwork to force an evaluation of competency; get control over everything and the ward [senior] loses all rights. — Pinellas County Internal Auditor, Robert W. Melton, "Dirty Tricks of Guardianships – The Need for Change." April/2004
Once judged incompetent and placed under a conservatorship [or guardianship], a citizen becomes a nonperson, with fewer rights than a convicted felon in a penitentiary. — Robert Casey, Editor, Bloomberg Wealth Manager
"This is something that ought not to be taken lightly. Seniors have become victims of the legal process. When you become old, you should not, by the action of a court, automatically lose your rights just because some family member or impersonal administrator calls you incompetent." — Senator Larry Craig, Chairman, U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging. (February, 2003)
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