By: Dan Roberts - Publisher
"Dammit Rana!" I snapped. "Stop thinking with your heart.”
It was the first time I ever raised my voice in anger to my Ladylove. Although I felt very strongly that her conclusion was correct, I needed her to "prove it."
Sadly, she has. And the worse part - it is all perfectly legal and for "our own good."
Rana has been on her Don(na) Quixote crusade to protect seniors from the abuses and scandal regarding the Guardianship (Nevada Revised Statutes - Chapter 159) laws. For the past few months, she has taken me kicking and screaming into this issue.
On each and every occasion, when I told her that "it could not happen" she provided the paperwork.
As a former attorney, I learned how to read the law, petitions and court orders. More importantly, I was taught how to read between the lines.
From our research and investigation, it is clear that these "Private Guardianships" are nothing short of a racket. It gives "ambulance chasers" a good name.
Let me be very precise in our findings: Having a private guardian appointed for a senior is like selecting a child molester to run a day care center. It is financial elder exploitation; sanctioned and approved by the Court and Nevada.
One example: According to court records filed by a private guardian, (The Vegas Voice is not ready to release her name yet - but we're real close) it listed an elderly couple’s (mentioned in Rana's column) bank account as having approximately $23,000.
The initial court order authorized this private guardian to seize $10,000 for the husband and then an additional ten thousand for the wife (a total of $20,000) for the couple's on-going expenses AND (of course) the expenses related to the court proceeding.
Just like that - the couple's bank account was depleted by nearly 90%.
Just like that, the guardian was allowed "reasonable compensation and expenses."
Just like that, the guardian was allowed to hire an attorney to represent the guardian and to have the lawyer receive "necessary compensation as well as expenses."
While the guardianship laws require an annual accounting, such filing was not done. What did the court do over this failure? Nothing.
Where did all the money go?
Rana's article asks "What would you do?" My first answer was to obtain legal counsel and protect myself with a power of attorney and/or trust.
Your power of attorney? Immediately revoked by court order.
I then discovered that by the guardian petitioning the court (by the way, what do you think the chances are that the court would deny an unopposed petition?) the guardian can make or change the senior's will, trust and even a beneficiary of an insurance policy (NRS 159.078).
I know, I know, it can’t possibly happen to your elderly parents or impact your adult children. Think again - especially if your relative is not a Nevada resident. That’s just one reason why Rana has been urging everyone to sign the petition.
Can you imagine if you or your adult children were denied family access?
I (half kiddingly) told Rana that if anyone tried to prevent my access to my mom, or if my sons were likewise prohibited or restricted in seeing their old man, my baseball bat would be in one hand and a pitchfork in the other.
And then Rana showed me the standard court order that specifically authorizes the guardian to "use the assistance of the Henderson Police Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department or any other law enforcement agency" in securing and protecting the ward.
Insane you say? Perhaps taking a baseball bat is; but what about some gentle reasoning with the guardian? You really think the private guardian would relinquish this lucrative (but perfectly legal) money making con job?
Perhaps you retain an attorney and submit your own petition to the Family Court. Be careful.
Under the law (NRS 159.0486) the guardian can claim that your application is without merit or intended to harass or "annoy" them in the performance of their duties. How quick will the guardian “threaten” you about this and, if you go forward, ask that the court (who appointed them in the first place - I’m telling you, the system is “rigged”) award sanctions and expenses against you?
I'm not kidding; the law actually says you can't "annoy" the guardian. Do you believe that if you go to court and demand that the guardian account, explain and defend where all the money went, the guardian wouldn't be "annoyed"?
And even if you have faith in the "justice" of the court, the guardian would spend your parent’s or loved one’s money; not only to oppose your petition, but to retain attorneys. So even if you're successful, consider the financial cost - all paid by the senior; and all for (of course) their "own good."
OUR VEGAS VOICE SOLUTION
The good news is that the Nevada legislature can stop these abuses with 5 easy revisions to the guardianship laws. We also challenge anyone (starting with those private guardians) to disagree with any of these common-sense proposals.
1. Repeal the requirement that a family member must be a resident of Nevada to be appointed as a guardian.
2. Family members and/or those named in a power of attorney, joint bank account, trust or will be given preferential standing over a private guardian in the appointment of a guardian.
3. Establish a cost effective, transparent and consistent process to define the mental competency of the senior. A neurologist in conjunction with the senior’s primary physician should be required for guardianship to be approved.
4. Mandate a complete and accurate initial inventory of all assets, as well as quarterly filing of all financial expenditures - with enforcement penalties for non-compliance.
5. Establish an independent commission or authority to audit and enforce financial accountability of the senior’s estate once any guardian is appointed.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU
Okay, so what do we do? The obvious answer would be to organize, protest and contact our respective Nevada legislative leaders and let them know that this (legal) elder abuse racket must be stopped.
While, of course, we should do that (and perhaps bring our baseball bats too) the truth of the matter is that most of us are too busy, or too lazy (or expect the other guy) to do that. To further compound the problem, there is no doubt that the private guardianship industry is well-funded, politically connected and will do anything and everything to keep the status quo.
Our suggestion is easy, effective and requires no heavy lifting. It will have an unbelievable, impact on the Nevada Legislature; and, best yet – will only take you (less than) one minute. As we have previously urged, simply fill out the attached petition and mail/fax/email it to The Vegas Voice.
It will cost you no more than a stamp (or a local fax call) and for those individuals who are “on line” anyway - absolutely nothing.
The Vegas Voice will do the rest. Rana and yours truly intend to travel to Carson City and hand deliver the petitions - as well as testify before the legislature.
Can you imagine if we bring stacks and thousands of petitions to the hearings?
Any parent or adult child who fails to take the time and “effort” to submit the petition deserves nothing less than a private guardian to “protect’ them. After all, such assistance is “for your own good.”
For your financial security and for those of your family, take a few seconds and do your part. The Vegas Voice will, of course, keep you updated and stay on top of this issue.
And last, but not least - as for my initial outburst to Rana; let’s just say, I offered my (numerous) apologies. At times, there really is nothing wrong with listening (and thinking) with your heart.
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