Tuesday, December 2, 2008


NATIONAL GUARDIANSHIP ASSOCIATION Toll-free: 877-326-5992 Fax: 814-355-2452 Email: info@guardianship.org
Website: http://www.guardianship.org/
Presented to the16th Annual Probate Bench/Bar in conjunction with The University of South Carolina School of Law Columbia, South Carolina September 12, 2008 presented by Terry Hammond Executive Director
National Guardianship Association
2207 Hancock Drive Austin, Texas 78756 915-203-2520
Paper originally prepared by By Steven D. Fields, 2008 NGA president:ngapresident@guardianship.org
sfields@tarrantcounty.com 817-884-1049

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. The laws in most states prohibit courts from appointing the follow relatives as guardians: felons; those indebted to proposed wards; those involved in lawsuits with proposed wards; those asserting adverse claims to proposed wards; or those whose conduct is notoriously bad. I don't know about you, but that just about describes the attendees at my latest family reunion. State laws, however, don't prohibit these same disqualified relatives from griping about everything the professional guardian does or charges to "their loved one" and "their expected inheritance.

Disaffected family members and litigants have banded together to complain about what they perceive to be unjust treatment from guardians. These first two sites list under the category of "victims" about a dozen stories of incapacitated people who have been financially "abused" by guardians.

National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse.
Mt. Prospect, IL – Robin C. Westmiller, JD, founder, who has now left NASGA to start - ANGER

Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform
Thousand Oaks, CA – Robin C. Westmiller, JD, founder Also Blood Tastes Lousy with Scotch by Robin C. Westmiller, JD, (a.k.a. Raven West) (Star Publish 6/22/06) "compelling memoir of how she rescued her father from greedy cousins, thieving attorneys, and the Florida Guardianship System."

3. ElderAbuseHelp.Org – a Blog on which "Guardianship Costs" was a hot topic on August 6, 2008.

4. Obama '08 Platform Meeting – "National Guardianship Reform Desperately Needed," hosted by Latifa Ring, National Delegate, in Houston, TX, on 7/12/08 with 11 participants.



The following are anti-guardianship articles cited at http://www.angr.us/.

  1. Key West, FL - 4/18/08
- Elder Abuse Hits Home: The Clara Fernandez Story
by Rhonda Linseman-Saunders in Key West Blue Paper New Haven, CT - 8/2/07 – Losing Control: Bringing Maydelle Home by Betsy Yagla for the New Haven Advocate Palm Beach, FL – 10/26/07 –

After Death, Control of Life at Issue by Susan R. Miller for PalmBeachPost.com
Hartford, CT - 1/19/07

Probate Court: Offering Unequal Protection Under the Law
by Rick Green for the Hartford Courant Los Angeles, CA –

Guardians for Profit 4 part series by Robin Fields, Ellen Larubia and Jack Leonard for LA Times

Stolen Lives by Barry Yeoman for AARP The Magazine.

These articles, and the stories focus on how good things were before the guardians and the attorneys got involved and how the wards are now all out of money. The stories seem to gloss over the crises that gave need to the guardianship and why family members were not appointed as guardians initially. They arouse sympathy for the incapacitated person and depict the professional guardians and their attorneys as opportunistic villains. The family members are depicted as unwitting victims who could have prevented this tragedy if only they had either been appointed as guardians themselves or left alone to craft their own solution to the crisis. The articles seem to suggest that the solution is for professional guardians and their attorneys to work for free. The articles do not attempt to report the perspective of professional guardians, their attorneys or the courts. Because of the increased litigiousness in contested guardianship cases, NGA has endorsed a a policy offered by Dominion Insurance which is exclusively available to NGA members which can be found at http://www.guardianship.org/

NGA has been successful in turning negative guardianship media articles somewhat positive. A reporter in Missouri contacted the NGA prior to writing her follow-up story on a public administrator in Joplin, MO, who the reporter had been criticizing in a number of previous articles. A previous article by the same writer stated that the public administrator and her husband, a former MO state legislator, were going to bring a libel suit against the newspaper for these stories. The public administrator was defeated in a recent election, so the alleged damages could be significant.

Probate Courts Monitor Guardianships 7/12/08 by Susan Redden for The Joplin Globe Here are some quotes from this article: Lead sentence: "It's a little-known county procedure, but one that can have a personal, profound and sometimes permanent effect on the lives of individuals and their families. The Jasper County public administrator is a guardian and conservator for more than 350 people who have been put under county supervision by the probate court."

"A public administrator normally is appointed because there is no other person, normally a family member, to act on behalf of the person.Reporting to the court, and the court's monitoring, are essential parts of the process," said Terry Hammond, executive director for the National Guardianship Association. The group offers training and certification for guardians, and promotes a code of ethics and standards for those who serve as guardians.

"Some family members can be unhappy when a third-party guardian such as a public administrator is named," Hammond said, "especially if a public administrator is chosen over a family member. They can have a thankless job and be criticized by family members.

Abridged for E.A. To Download the entire article by the NGA please click here=>>Emerging Trends.pdf

Article Submitted by

Jeffrey R. Golin
Legal Research
Box 14153
Fremont, CA 94539
(650) 518-2850

We encourage our readers to contact the NGA with your feedback, negative or postive, I'm sure that they would find it very constructive to hear what is really going on from the very people that are most affected by Guardianship procedures, the families of the "Wards" and use this knowledge to install the safeguards that are sorely needed to avoid the crisis,abuses and help saveguard the rights U.S. Constitution guarantees older Americans.


Anonymous said...

There's a horrendous problem going on in the USA that few of us even know about or realize.

Did you know that a "guardian" can go to the court behind your back (ex parte) without your even knowing it, tell the judge that you are "incompetent" to handle your own financial affairs, and the judge will then grant to the guardian the right to take away all of your civil rights, move you into a nursing home, close down all of your bank accounts, CDs, etc., sell your home, and then spend your money on frivolous things such as multiple and unnecessary court motions (attorney's fees) and guardianship fees? This is just a brief overview.

This is a crisis of epidemic proportions.

Fox news covered this topic last April 21 and ABC news 7 just covered a little bit about it.

There are also websites regarding this problem.

But not much is being done. Legislators duck out; police say if a judge approved the guardianship they can't get involved; state attorneys don't get involved; we contacted the FBI and they won't get involved.

This is a problem that could happen to you. It could happen to anyone here in the USA.

How do we get the word out? How do we get the law changed so this cannot happen?

Anonymous said...

"... those indebted to proposed wards; those involved in lawsuits with proposed wards; those asserting adverse claims to proposed wards; or those whose conduct is notoriously bad..."

Those apply to my father's guardian although he was not a professional guardian. He was a former step-son. In my opinion, he is a sociopath. He put my father in the "care" of his 20 year old niece who, as a recent adolescent, had been a repeated run-away who used street drugs and had several out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The step-family members were quite estranged and came from out-of-state only to rob him using my step-mother's succession.

Laws are wishful thinking.