CALIFORNIANS NEED THE POWER TO DISCIPLINE AND EXPELL ABUSIVE CONSERVATORS

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            Conservatorship is a “tool” intended to protect the elderly. I use the term tool loosely because what for some has been a successfully transitioned relative from working life and settling into their senior years. For most however this is not the case and the court system still take grown men and women, strips them of their rights to that of a level below a child’s. Granting other people often people that the seniors do not know and have never even met sweeping and nearly parental control over their lives. 65 years old is the age when you become a potential victim of this growing form of widespread financial abuse and infringement on your social liberties.

 

                Guardianship vs Conservatorship; What is the difference? Well a guardian is someone who makes sure that the life and well being of another are being cared for. Typically, a guardian has control over a “ward” in all senses except financial. Conservatorship grants 100% of the financial control of an individual’s life, their savings, their assets, any actual property that they own basically anything that you would say  “yes this is mine” weather it be a result of many years of working and paying for a home or vehicle or let’s say you inherited something in accordance with a relative’s wishes in death. Either way anything your able to imagine that could come into the terms of “mine” can simply be taken away, simply because you turn 65. Conservators have the capability to sequester their wards, place them into a locked dementia facility even without a diagnosis of dementia. They have sweeping power over their wards life’s down to the smallest detail. Traditional institutions barely manage to stand against these legal proceedings such as being married. Someone who is 65 or older but married to someone who is not yet is provided protection for the meantime as a spouse is an automatic power of attorney but when the spouse turns 65 then they can be conserved together. Their marriage annulled by a conservator their pets surrendered their homes sold and them selves placed into forced isolation (which is far worse than the “hole” that you see in bad prison movies) in isolation. No one will speak to you they can’t your kept in a small room and even if you speak directly to the wardens, they will ignore you acting as if you’re not even there. They have the power to dismantle the legal protections provided in living trust and redirect and circumvent the instructions of a last will and testament. Essentially anything that you can do, once conserved they can do, they are you on paper.

 

                Even more terrible is that conservators hold positions of power and respect on par with lawyers and doctors, yet they are subject to less regulation than guide dog trainers or hair stylists. Once the probate court has appointed a conservator. Its almost impossible for seniors to escape this trap. Courts are all based on the honor system that is why you swear in when you go there but just as simple as that and common as sense is people miss represent if not flat out fabricate facts that are presented and so just like that these statements become permanent facts in the legal world. The wards estate is compelled to pay for the legal fees of their conservators and so hiring a lawyer seems like the correct legal action to try and expel one of these parasites from your life but your responsible for paying the conservators lawyers’ fees first as well. Making it very expensive and usually an act of good faith on the lawyer who is helping you to try and expel a conservator as a ward you have lost all control and access to your financial holdings. This is particularly annoying for wards as, if you have not guessed already but no one is beating down the doors of the court to conserve someone without money. That’s right this is the very poster child of legally endorsed white collar crime.

 

                Furthering this virtually god like power Conservator’s can strip a ward of the right to see friends and family. Commonly placing wards in locked facilities sometimes without even telling the families where the ward has been moved too. Stripping them of their rights to basic liberties we all take for granted, the ability to use a phone when we want or to go to the store when we so choose, to receive or send mail, or to choose a new doctor and whether or not your going on medications. It seems like a fate worse than death and if you try to buck or break free the resulting period of time that you will spend tranquilized and restrained to a stretcher in a locked hospital room aka level five skilled nursing facility will break your spirit to try and resist the steamrolling that someone else who you may or may not have ever met decided to put on your life, while they sell your home spend your money and talk with your family in your place.

 

                The Probate courts are said to be the party protecting the wards and overseeing the conservators. Yet in cases from 2016-Current amongst thousands of abuse complaints only 2% of conservators were removed from their ward’s lives. There really isn’t any consequences or performance standards for this profession. They operate with a bond at first but commonly abuse a niche in the system of trust law allowing them to select their own replacement and then that replacement is not required to carry a bond, then they spend the seniors estate down to nothing and finally quit.

 

                California needs to change the way that this trade is being performed. Wards such as Norma Farrant of Newberry Park in California who had built up quite a sizeable trust for her care in life as she got older first retiring from teaching in the public school system and then starting a rather successful career in real estate for several years. The trust was quite detailed and contained more than 30 declarations from friends of hers in support of her trust and choices and that at no time what so ever would it be appropriate for her estranged daughter now disowned to make or even weigh in on making any decisions regarding Norma’s personal care, an earlier dispute in which her daughter was able to essentially steal a home from her without compensation set a large gap between the two and they were not able to find their way back to each other. Dissatisfied with being cut out of Norma’s trust and any inheritances that the daughter felt should go her way she approached a conservator that she has a personal relationship with Angelique Friend.  A petition was filed in Ventura county’s probate courts and even though her Norma’s sons objected and while Norma was still residing at the home of her eldest son. Angelique was appointed and Diane Norma’s daughter was given the choice as to what should be done with her mother who then decided to place her into a locked secure dementia facility even though she is not diagnosed with dementia. Adult protective services showed up and took Norma from her residence where she lived with her son and pulled out her permanent hearing aides and left her glasses behind. That was nearly 4 years ago and Norma still resides at the Golden Oaks skilled nursing facility in Camarillo, CA more than a million dollars that was housed in the trust that Norma had built for herself was spent since that time by Angelique Friend and as if that wasn’t enough Angelique petitioned the court system to take her sons’ home where he and his mother resided as 50% owners each sell the home and take 100% of the proceeds for Norma’s care. This is just one of many horror stories that line streets of California’s families that “did it right” worked hard and pursued the American dream. Never having been arrested or having even a marginal brush with the law Norma and her sons handled their lives within the parameters that the law in this country of ours says to live within. After a lifetime of working and building and saving, the Ventura county superior court stripped Norma of her rights as a citizen of this country, her dignity as a human being and then her independence as an individual. Her initial placement into the golden oaks was concealed from her son’s for nearly a year. Only finding her when her son Josh and I started working together on this with the goal to find her and after going to the court records system and finding in Angelique’s divorce papers that her now ex-husband was the medical professional in charge at Golden Oaks in Camarillo did I call and make an appointment to tour the facility for “my grandfathers pending placement” a lie, but necessary given than Ms. Friend has the facility in the habit of denying access to their mother in spite of any court order that says they are not too. In court Angelique has simply said “that’s the facilities doing not mine” that’s it. Norma has never once been permitted to attend a hearing to determine her own competence. Can you imagine such an indignity? People stand around debating if you are competent but you yourself are never asked? The American with disabilities act specifically guarantees all dependent or pending dependent adults this right. That they themselves are meant to be present at a hearing to determine one’s own competency.

 

                Yet like so many things that exist in the “grey area” of what should be a black and white system of legal vs illegal actions the family and probate courts sit perched upon a giant machine that converts families into cash, functional responsible and usually upstanding citizens are reduced to voiceless dependents tucked away behind locked door.  The current system does not punish those who abuse their wards and pillage their estates. Taking property out of the wards names and following the conservator’s handbook guidance they transfer these properties, or trusts, or misc. assets into their own names. This court endorsed method of redistribution of wealth has left many who should have inherited something, or anything from otherwise financially fortunate families absolutely nothing once their parents have passed away, save for the minimum life insurance policy that the conservators are required to place on there wards of about 60,000.00 that’s for the families to share in after funeral and cremation services costs are deducted of course. These so far have been the problems in that no one specifically administers consequences on conservators and families are rarely able to get one unseated. The responsibility here goes to the courts who so far have managed to handle this is a less than satisfactory solution, if a conservator is brought before a court for excessive spending or for isolating a senior and alienating them from family members. The judge tells them to stop and then they do for a little bit. That’s the problem no set consequences or performance standards.

 

                The solution lies in developing safeguards to defuse this bestowed parental like power over grown men and women (keep in mind that again, nearly ALL wards are successful people in one way or another but the commonality is financial success) Well the very fact that someone determined that 65 is the age where its deemed politically correct to begin questioning once competence is frankly wrong. 65 years young are the same age that one on average retires. So, you do what society tells you to for your entire life and then when you retire someone else gets the fruits of your labors? This is a fundamental flaw in the system this petition hopes to accomplish 3 specific goals. First to raise the age of questionable competence to 75 which according to the American Medical Assoc is the age at which dementia and dementia related illness really interferes with one’s ability to perform for themselves. Giving Californian’s at least 10 years to enjoy life after the end of one’s professional responsibilities.

                Second to create three strikes and your out-conservator penalty system.  In which certain actions warrant certain demerits or strikes and then the accumulated value at the end of the fiscal year either reverts back to zero for the new year or in the event of an accumulation of three or more strikes bars that individual from conservatorship or any other fiduciary type occupation in direct care of a ward or a wards finances. So, for the single strike offenses. Attendance at one’s own competency hearings. This is the conservator’s job after all to manage and maintain their wards life’s and how good of a job are, they are doing if their ward misses a court date that the law should require them to be present for. Two strike offenses referring to those actions which could per circumstance be excusable neglect but nevertheless caused harm in some fashion to their wards by either inadvertence or neglectful action or inaction, failure to protect as they call it in juvenile court. Three strike offenses this is an automatic ejection from the fiduciary license and a ban from re-entering the field for 10 years. These offenses pertain to fraud. Forgery and or abuse of process by people who know the system and are using that knowledge to bring harm and the intentional infliction of emotional distress by illegal means down onto people. Example Fiduciary Jodi Pais Montgomery was named a trustee of the Roger George special needs trust. An instrument created to demolish Roger George and his family who does not suffer from a special need at all. Yet this trust claims that Mr. George is afflicted by some severely disabling disability to such an extent that he is unable to manage for himself and or his own finances. Roger who worked through life and retired at the age of 65 from the motion picture business has a wife named Holly who is only 53 normally this is a protection from conservatorships that are unnecessary and abusive as a spouse is the default power of attorney by law. However, the creation of this trust gives Ms. Montgomery total control over Roger and all his assets listing his wife of 22 years in it only once. As a provision that Holly never be named a potential trustee or substitute trustee. It also says in here that Jodi has the right to come into Roger’s home and determine whether or not he can continue living there or not and that at any time completely at Jodi’s discretion she can liquidate the trust that says “intended for Roger George’s care” and then refund the money that hasn’t been exhausted to Roger’s sister, Nanci. With a request that she use it for Rogers care, not a requirement no but a request, made with no legal standing. For more on this issue please check with the podcast “Britney’s gram #86: con purse” Where they go more in depth about this complex fraudulent action on Ms. Montgomery’s part. This sort of despicable and duplicitous action warrants an immediate baring from the fiduciary trade.

 

                In conclusion the last goal of this petition is to get Senate approval for following the recommendations by the American Bar association and establishing a volunteer conservatorship monitoring board in each county in the state. Only with an appropriate volunteer oversight can these and similar casualties be avoided in the future, please make California a place that is safe to grow old in.