Imagine you’ve worked hard all of your life and suddenly you are deemed incapacitated and are stripped of your dignity and basic individual rights.
You are being taken away from your family, your assets are being pillaged and now they are preparing to put you away somewhere to die. It sounds like Nazi Germany, but this is happening in the United States today. The process has been called “Isolate, Medicate, Steal The Estate.” The victims are seniors. The partners in crime are financial predators and agents of the Elder Guardianship system—attorneys, professional guardians, medical experts, and others waiting for the fire sale. There are some good judges out there but many are overworked, and the ethical attorneys seem hard to find.
Petitioner – Starts the process. Anyone can petition the court to find the senior incapacitated and name a guardian, even a predator looking to take over the senior’s assets. Their motives are not investigated.
Family – May be a petitioner or may not know about the proceedings at all. Often family members are not notified of a hearing until it’s too late. There is not enough effort to find interested parties.
Doctors – Sign off on the incapacity of the senior and often refers a petitioner to a guardianship attorney to speed up the process. The Examining Committee usually consists of a court-approved medical doctor, nurse and social worker. They each get paid for the visit and report.
Judge – Final gatekeeper. Has the power to make the decision about the “alleged incapacitated person” (AIP) without having to meet the person. Approves fee petitions and some of the guardian’s actions. If the Judge is in on the corruption, it’s almost impossible to get out.
Lawyers – The many attorneys—for the guardian, the ward, the petitioner, others—all get paid from the senior’s assets, unless the family has to pay out-of-pocket for additional counsel to defend the AIP. The corrupt ones specialize in the “Steal The Estate” part of the process.
Court-appointed Guardians – A plenary guardian makes all decisions for the rest of the senior’s life. He/she also gets paid for the rest of the senior’s life. A limited guardian may be responsible only for finances or other aspects of the senior’s life such as medical care and housing. With 40 hours of training and a modest background check, a person can become a professional guardian. The corrupt ones specialize in the “Isolate” and “Steal The Estate” part of the process.
Real Estate Brokers – Specialize in the fast liquidation of the senior’s home and property.
Car Dealers – Specialize in the fast liquidation of the senior’s vehicle(s).
Appraisers – Expedite the liquidation process.
At its worst, the system is easy to manipulate legally making it corrupt and incestuous. Most of the money comes out of the senior’s assets. That’s why there is a such a quick push to Isolate, Medicate, Steal The Estate.
In Florida and Flagler County, these predators are allowed to liquidate the senior’s assets before a final appeal. The judge can keep signing off on fee petitions from the attorneys, guardian, etc. The senior is, in essence, paying for everything and denied full due process. Ultimately, even if he/she were to win on appeal and be released from this web (if he/she was not already put in a home and medicated), all of the assets would be gone. It is cruel and very un-American.
We must stem the rising tide to prevent a the feeding frenzy on seniors through a legal yet corrupt system. Who are we as a nation to victimize our seniors? It’s time to reform the Elder Guardianship system in the US and give elders the respect they deserve instead of stripping them of their rights and pillaging their hard-earned money. If we’re lucky, we will all get old. Let’s create a society where we can age with grace and dignity. Be sure to read the Huffington Post articles, “Is Elder Guardianship a New Form of Human Trafficking?” and “Seniors Stripped Of The Right To Vote; Florida Is A Hotspot.”
In the meantime, Lillie is still in the fight. Please find out how you can help #FreeLillie. Follow us and retweet @elderdignitynow. If you have specific suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.