Disability Awareness & Advocacy, guardianship, Uncategorized

So much for the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force

By Gretchen Rachel Hammond

On March 25, 2019, during her announcement of an Elder Abuse Task Force, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel laid out seven initiatives for guardianship reform in the state which she touted at listening sessions, directed at the elderly population who were concerned about abuses of the system by court-appointed guardians, as initiatives she could easily push through the legislature. However, the membership of her Task Force included a number of pro-guardianship organizations. Obviously, they have pushed back.

See below photos below:

The initiatives as proposed March 25, 2019 are in the left photo. The photo to the right shows the initiatives as they appeared in Nessel’s Elder Abuse Task Force news letter published October, 2019:

Of note:

1) The limitation on the number of wards has been removed. Guardians with hundreds of wards each cannot possibly ensure their well being.

2) The requirement for a court to provide written opinions as to why a relative is not suitable as a guardian has been removed. This investigation saw numerous cases in which family members were overlooked and DPOAs were tossed out without reason. The judges are again off the hook.

3) Certification by the national Guardianship Association is simply a matter of paying a $375 fee for a multiple choice exam which a Rhesus Monkey could pass.

4) The requirement that a judge sign an attestation that an accounting filed by a guardian has been reviewed and meets the fiduciary standard has been watered down to “guardian required to file accounting when they manage property of the ward.” The majority of them already do. However, as our investigation noted, there were problems such as over billing, missing money etc.

5) Emergency petitions for guardianship to require a full hearing with the ward present has been removed. Now the language simply states that such petitions can only be filed in cases that “pose a danger of imminent and substantial harm.” Since guardianship petitions are rarely filed with accompanying medical evidence, this language is not only ambiguous but utterly worthless.

6) Similarly worthless is a “Family Rights Form” since probate judges do not follow Michigan statute anyway and attorneys are reluctant to represent families challenging a guardianship. Note that such rights are no longer being “developed.”

7) The language that a guardian’s removal of a ward from their home has been enhanced to include “in a non-emergency situation.” With no accountability, a guardian could still declare that such a removal is an emergency as the ward’s money has run out and the sale is required for long term care (as they already do) or that the home is unlivable – again, something they already do without proof. Also the appraisal requirement is gone which would still allow a guardian to undersell a ward’s home.

Clearly, the Michigan Guardianship and Probate Judges Associations exerted no small amount of influence here just as they did with the 1998 and 2005 Task Forces. This legislation is still in the early stages. Who knows what it will look like if and when it is passed?

Is this enough? Feel free to weigh in. If you are going to share, please be sure to cut and paste the commentary.

The Underground Advocate: What was suppose to happen (Initiatives) and what THAT final outcome was. What a waste of everyone’s precious time and the lives of many, many unfortunate, vulnerable people and the families that love them. This absolutely INCLUDES ALL VULNERABLE PEOPLE, such as those who are severely, multiply-disabled who are remain segregated and isolated within group homes and nursing homes. Anyone over 18 years of age. This isn’t about just the elderly. The neglect and abuse are even bigger than that. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.

Michigan’s AG is putting on a politically-motivated dog and pony show – at the expense of the most vulnerable in the State of Michigan. Sadly and horrendously this is happening NOW all over our country (the elderly and disabled being kidnapped and victimized) and WHY the mainstream media has not picked up on this is puzzling and questionable. Think about that one. I know that I do every single day.

My next post will be all about Emily from an earlier post (Her Name is Emily). Emily’s struggle has gotten more desperate, twisted and warped – as to why she is languishing and deteriorating in a nursing home in Michigan.

Stay tuned. Buckle up ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

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