Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Amy Grabill.- Writes -Help-

Amy writes ;

My mother IS a "Ward of the State" and she is wondering why the POA she gave my eldest brother is not being upheld, is there anything we can tell her, how do we get her wishes respected and the POA she drew up for my brother put back into action?

Everyone is passing the buck on her case, no one knows what she can do and she is not able to be with the son and his family she intended on being with when she got old and needed assistance with her financial affairs and such! It is a crime that mamma is being handled this way!


by Maria C. Gallo , Esquire

Dear Amy ;

There is not sufficient information to answer your question because I do not know when the POA was drafted or how your mother became a ward of the state.

But let me say this:

A POA is only good if the person was competent at the time of its drafting. No POA can be drafted after a person has been declared incompetent in a court of law.

However, a POA is also rendered useless if a person is subsequently declared incompetent. I do not know how your mother became a ward of the state. Did the Department of Elder Affairs institute a competency (Baker Act) action against her OR an Adult Protective Services (API) action?

A Baker Act would only render Amy's mother in need of 72-hour observation. If after the observation it was your mother determined by a panel of two or three experts that she (your mother) was incompetent, then a separate guardianship petition would have to be filed.

Typically the Department of Elder Affairs locates lawyers who would initiate those petitions. If a guardianship petition was filed, relatives are suppose to be noticed so that relatives can ask to be considered as the person's guardian.

Amy's mother would have been appointed an attorney (called an elisor) to represent her interests. If the relatives were not notified, then the appointed guardian is subject to removal.

(This is assuming that a guardianship petition was filed.) If there is a guardian, then the relatives should file to replace the guardian with a relative using the POA as evidence that Amy's mother intended someone other than a state appointed person.

However, if this is an API case, then the proceeding is as follows:

A social worker usually from the Department of Elder Affairs although it could be a hospital social worker or other person who works with the elderly, files a Petition for Protective Services, alleging that the person is in need of state protection because the person is either being exploiting or abused or in need of state services.

The social worker is represented by an attorney for the State. The elderly person, allegedly needing state assistance, is appointed a lawyer to defend her. That lawyer should attempt to locate relatives and/or other individuals or agencies to provide the elderly person with services to meet her needs and to eliminate the exploitation or abuse.

If the elderly person can safely return to her previous situation with whatever services are necessary to meet her needs, then adult protective services can be terminated.

If the elderly person is incompetent or in need of continuing services, then a search for a suitable guardian must begin. A guardianship petition would eventually be required to protect that person and to eliminate the need for state intervention. Yes, it may even mean that the person can not return to their home.

Amy in your mother's case, You should contact your mother's state social worker and find out how she became a ward of the state. If her mother's attorney will talk to her, then she should call him/her too. If her mother's lawyer is not willing to consider Amy or some other relative as guardian, then she may need to hire a lawyer to file a motion to intervene and have her concerns heard by the court.

It is best to have a guardian who lives locally, however, the law does allow for an out-of-state guardian if that person is a close relative of the individual.

Good luck Amy. Move quickly though to prevent your mother's assets from being diminished to pay for the cost of these legal proceedings............


Anonymous said...

My parents have been stolen from our family. They are being held ‘hostage’, against their will, in assisted living.

Many laws has been violated in stripping my elderly parents of their freedom and their basic human rights. For over a year, my 87 year, old, mother was forced to stay in an assisted living facility, separated from her husband, her family and her home.

She was emotionally devastated by the separation. Visitation rights with family, were systematically and strategically, taken to a bare minimum to, further, isolate her from her family.

The stress of the separation from my mother, also, devastated my 91 year, old, father. His health plummeted downward. A little over a year ago, he was still driving; now, he needs help to walk. In July, he was placed in the facility with my mother. In a recent conversation my father, said, “Bring a gun and shoot me”. He said if he cannot be with his family, he doesn’t want to be alive. My mother was in the background saying, “I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home.” Without intervention, the only end in sight is this misery, until death.

Unbelievably, this is taking place in Howard County, Maryland, less than 40 miles from our nation’s capitol. And, it is all at the hands of the Howard County Office on Aging, Adult Protective Services, a court appointed attorney and the ‘Honorable’ Judge Louis Becker in the Howard County Circuit Court.

These are the very people who are to protect the frail in our society. The owner of Bryant Woods Inn Assisted Living, in Columbia, Maryland, supported them, as well, so that she could keep the ‘cash cow’ at $3800 a month. She began a ‘campaign of hostility’ against the family, especially against me, as I am the only daughter and a viable caretaker for my mother. I had moved back to Maryland after 35 years, to take care of my parents, so I was the, primary one, to defame and dis credit.

I had returned to Maryland to take care of my mother, and my mother was devastated. I wanted to take my mother and father for a weekend to visit relatives. My parents had been living apart for four months and they, also, needed to be together.

“My mother is not going to stabilize because she knows she is not with her family and she needs to be with her family. The assisted living and all of the caretakers are strangers to her.” My mother was a ward of the court and the Howard County Office on Aging. And, my knowledge of my mother, her health care needs, her emotional needs, none of that, seem to have mattered!

Over the coming months, the struggle continued to get worse. The owner of the assisted living facility came up with a different set of rules for me. Not only did she try to limit my visiting hours, but she kept me from taking my mother for a walk, for weeks on end. When, I, finally, was allowed to take my mother for a walk, one of the poignant comments from my mother was, “There are people in that house that have strings on me and I don’t like it!” I believe the reason for restrictions on my visitation time, and privacy with my mother, was for ‘damage control’. As a day progressed, my mother’s begging to ‘go home’ and ‘where is Daddy?’ would increase.

Many health, safety, and nutritional needs presented themselves and I addressed these to the ‘guardian’. As she had been adversarial from the start, I, quickly, communicated in writing via email so that it was documented. She only returned several of my phone calls, and never replied to any of my emails. My mother’s needs were not being met.

There was an, important, legal issue. After the original filing for guardianship, the court ‘appointed’ an attorney to represent my mother. The courts choose this person, regularly, for these assignments. The catch is that court appointed attorneys are not paid by the State of Maryland they are paid by the Estate of the disabled person, whether or not the best interest of the disabled person is served.

This was the problem. The court appointed attorney came to the September hearing without having seen my mother. My mother had only been at this facility for two weeks, but this attorney told the judge that my mother was ‘stable’.

For more than two months, my mother had kept caretakers awake, until late at night, and had been moved from the previous facility, because of it. I tried, diligently, before the hearing, to reach the court appointed attorney, as it was important for her to know this. My mother was not ‘stable’. The attorney made this statement while family members were in the back of the courtroom, and not able to respond.

The owner of Bryant Woods Inn Assisted Living had waged a campaign of hostility against me and the Office on Aging and the court appointed attorney had agendas that did not meet my mother’s needs.

All of the testimony was against the family and should have been obvious to the judge. Most of the testimony against me was lacking substance. Even if it had been true, there was no solid foundation for keeping me from being my mother’s caretaker. The ‘guardian’ stated she did not believe that any of the siblings had their mother’s best interest at heart, but there was no supporting documentation.

The brothers, from out of town, both, supported me as my mother’s guardian. One of these brothers gave supporting testimony as he had, repeatedly, witnessed my ability to, calm my mother. He, also, knew that I had been on top of my mother’s meds, since this had started. Also, I had a recording from a few weeks, earlier, of my mother begging me to spend the night and be with her. However, the judge supported the Office on Aging and gave them full guardianship. This is what I believed, from the beginning, was the agenda.

Anonymous said...

My mother died while we were looking for her. She was placed in a home for elderly and we were lead to believe that she was in her own home with a family member. We live in the United States and mother lived in Spain, it was hard for us to afford to check on her so the family member took allof her money and sent her to a home for the poor elderly. We are all so broken up about this still,.she was an American citizen and she died overseas with none of her children to be by her side,.how cruel is that! Elder abuse must stop,.and families need to watch over their elderly better,.we feel we should have called the authorities in Spain but now it is too late for that, she was only visiting her family member for a little while, like a vacation and we couldn't stop her from going to Spain, besides, who knew she would be financially abused? Never asume that everything is ok,.always watch your elders like you would watch children, they are more vunerable than most children because children have no money and she did. Keep up the great work in educating people on your blog, we wish we would have read a blog like this before our mother became a victim!
Thank you!