Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reactions to the National Guardianship Associations'. Report

by Estate of Denial.Com

“The mission of NGA is to establish and promote a nationally recognized standard of excellence in guardianship.”
The mission statement of the National Guardianship Association sounds lofty and noble, but the release of a report entitled Best Practices in America for Guardianship/Conservatorship Cases: Emerging Trends as Shown in the Media and Case Law is best characterized as standard fare for an advocacy group or professional organization committed to advancing a positive image regarding a chosen industry or avocation. And that’s fine. EstateofDenial.com has no problem with public relations efforts which is what this is. We would, however, like to think that an organization truly concerned with the well-being of wards entrusted to their membership might at least acknowledge some existence of problems - real or potential -within their industry.

But then again, this report was presented in front of the 16th Annual Probate Bench/Bar in conjunction with The University of South Carolina School of Law. In other words, a bunch of lawyers and judges. And the legal industry, with its distinct track record for policing its own certainly wouldn’t fall for spin. But wait, that distinct track record too often reflects ignoring facts in lieu of peer protection…. Never mind.

So with that, EstateofDenial.com will make some points regarding our two favorite “trends” as outlined in the NGA report. Other points were of interest but these two, perhaps NGA priorities due to their prominent list placement, stood out.

First, Trend One: The Relatives are Restless. Per the report: “Most professional guardians are appointed because there are either no relatives to serve or there is something wrong with the relatives who are willing to serve.” We agree. “Flake” might be a good description for some of the people involved in these cases. Some, though, is the operative word. NGA seems comfortable in berating “disaffected family members” who have seen relatives exploited by guardians and then later treated poorly by the court system - all at significant costs to the families. The report seems to imply that it is somehow wrong or inappropriate for people to have “banded together to complain about what they perceive to be unjust treatment from guardians.” Interestingly, it seems okay for guardians to similarly band together (aka National Guardianship Association) to put forth a glowing, although not necessarily realistic, version of their own industry. Legitimate cases of guardianship abuses have absolutely been documented. For verification, we’d suggest a visit to the EoD News Archive, but per the NGA, that too is problematic — thus bringing us to Trend Two: The Press is Impressionable.

Most of the “anti-guardianship” articles cited in this report are also within our own News Archives. Complicated situations many times do cause guardianships to be appointed. And sometimes, these situations most benefit disgruntled family members and/or opportunistic guardians. Read the news accounts and judge for yourself. Today’s news media is highly biased with regard to many political issues, but it doesn’t mean they always get it wrong.

EstateofDenial.com does not maintain that all guardianships are bad. We completely agreed with comments made by Terry Hammond, executive director of the National Guardianship Association, with regard to the Claude Thomas case recently covered by The Dallas Morning News.

In the “Trends” report, the NGA doesn’t appear to offer any degree of balance that perhaps problems might exist. Professional organizations can be great resources to those involved in a particular industry as well as those affected by such industry. We think the National Guardianship Association “Trends” report was a missed opportunity. All guardians are not bad. Some provide an invaluable service. An organization acting as a positive resource to honest members is a fine thing. The same cannot, however, be said for an organization that ignores problems and discounts dissenting points of view which facilitates corrupt members’ continued exploitation of those who the industry alleges to protect.

Judge for yourself. This is what we call fare, but is it balanced?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is my opinion "guardianship" court appointed/self appointed should be readdressed in its entirety. Obviously, "guardianships" are not working for many people. Therefore, all sides should be considered, equally. Blaming the victims and their families should not be a part of it. Also the entities policing themselves are a waste.

I make my comments because of first-hand knowledge. For over four years,in South Carolina, a self-appointed guardian and others, not family, created so much pain and choas in my family. The victim, (deceased) Those effects are horrific, life altering and still continues with no end in sight. The courts, so far, has left the case, for the most part, unaddressed. I recognize it as a "failed system."

According to published reports, Elder Abuse is considered one of the fastest growing crimes in America. If guadianships for all involved are not in those considerations or at least, problematic, obviously it should be. It seems to me the blame game and finger pointing with reasons as "disgruntled relatives" and other non-productive words, are just what they appear to be, excuses. Keeping in mind "failed system," who needs excuses? My family would prefer results.

For any citizen in America to be denied any basic civil rights should ring alarm bells throughout this country. For our weakest to not be protected, and especially through the courts, where will that lead us in the future. A very slippery slope?

One would think our governing entities would recognize and address the domino effect of abuses that are occuring with many of our citizens. Perhaps then the alarm bells of Denied and Unequal Justice will no longer ring across America and the pandemic of elder and vulnerable abuses and failed "Guardianships" will no longer exist.

A Senior Citizen in Florida