Category Archives: Probate Abuse

SUPPORT HB2424 IN SENATE APPROPS!

  Tuesday, March 29 at 2 PM, the Senate Appropriations committee will hear HB2424.  Please call or email and voice your support of this vitally important effort at probate reform! 

Sen. Paula Aboud   (602) 926-5262

Sen. Sylvia Allen  (602) 926-5219

Sen. Andy Biggs  (602) 926-4371

Sen. Olivia Cajero-Bedford (602) 926-5835

Sen. Rich Crandall (602) 926-3020

Sen. Ron Gould (602) 926-4138

Sen. Lori Klein   (602) 926-5284

Sen. Al Melvin  (602) 926-4326

Sen. Rick Murphy  (602) 926-4444

Sen. David Schapira  (602) 926-3028

Sen. Don Shooter  (602) 926-4139

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (602) 926-5058

Sen. Steve Smith (602) 926-5685 

PROBATE VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS: Why HB 2424 must pass

The public cries for reform are being met by unbelievable opposition from  “FOR-PROFIT” entities and others who stand to gain financially by maintaining the status quo!

These changes are designed to stop the abuse of vulnerable individuals by those few fiduciaries and guardians that, according to an ABC 2010 investigation choose to “isolate, medicate, and liquidate”.

PLEASE, CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT HB2424!  Say “NO!” to the big-bucks, heavy handed techniques that would prey on the vulnerable and line their pockets with the profits!

PROBATE VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS

  • Ability to replace an individual’s guardian, conservator or trustee without cause.  Such a change must be in the best interest of the ward or protected person, and may occur no more than one time in a single year; (current law allows a person’s life savings to be used for the benefit of the guardian, leaving the person broke and on welfare!)
  • Clear and convincing evidence is added as a determining standard to determine if an individual needs a conservator.  This is intended to mirror current law governing the appointment of guardians and trustees; (current law allows hearsay, leaving people in very expensive legal haggling for months, even years before any real evidence is ever given!)
  • Mandates that a conservator produce a monthly accounting of how the conservator has spent the protected individual’s funds. Current law allows too many abuses that can result in the protected individual losing their entire life savings; (currently a report is given to the court with the person’s money spent “on their behalf” but with no accountability!)
  • Guarantees that wards and protected individuals have a right to family visitation, unless the courts find this will place the ward or protected individuals at risk of harm; (currently families can be prevented from visitation on the word of the guardian despite the desires of the person in their care.  Parents have been abused, denied health care, and even died, never seeing their children again despite the pleas of parent and child!)
  • Forces the courts to follow the directives of a ward or protected person, unless the courts determine that such a directive would place the ward or protected individual at risk of harm; (currently the courts ignore the legally established wills and Powers of Attorney, choosing to hand people over to for-profit agencies instead of families and other caregivers.)
  • Mandates that judicial officers receive proper training before they are permitted to hear any cases regarding probate matters; (the rampant abuse of established law, ethical violations, and exploitation that has gone unchecked by the courts, cries out for training in this very specialized area to protect the public.)
  • Establishes the Probate Advisory Panel.  This panel ensures that victims of probate court abuses have an alternative venue to voice heir issues and concerns, and to propose additional improvements to the operations of Arizona probate courts. (There is currently no check and balances for the private citizen other than the very expensive and emotionally debilitating court system.)

 

Forward Motion: HB2424 Passes Rules Committee…OR…David-1, Goliath-0

Despite a full frontal attack by every high-powered political lobbyist money could buy, HB2424, the bill written to reform the troubled Arizona Probate Court System has jumped another hurdle on the way to become law.  When public testimony was taken in the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday, the number of private citizens registered to speak in favor of the bill was so numerous that the time to speak had to be limited.  The only testimony in opposition to the bill was a court liaison, paid with taxpayer money, who objected to the “intrusion” by the legislature into the realm of the judiciary and industry insiders who profit from the current system.

The lingering question was this…if the courts and attorney groups are so good at policing their own, if they understand what is in the best interest of so many and capable of abiding by the current law…what caused the countless horror stories of exploitation and abuse?  If the bad actors are so few, why are the stories, true and accurate accounts, so many?    Just how did Arizona become the prime example of a national need for probate reform?

Apparently the circus of not 1, not 2, not 3,  not 4, but at last least 5 different “paid for hire”  lobbyist that are being paraded through legislative offices equipped to mislead policy makers by the 3 Ds: distract, deflect, and destroy HB2424 cannot compete with the truth and demands of the people for justice.   These fee for service providers joined the masses of paid fiduciaries, trustees and their associations and lobbyists, all fighting to keep a hold on the cash cow we know as vulnerable individuals entrusted to the state courts.         

Today was a good day for the people.

 

We Are The Courts and We Are Here To Help You——

This post  below is from Sonoran Alliance  and is just one of so many stories we know to be true and have heard in the last several months.  Lets just hope the legislature is also listening!

The letter below is just one story of many, the phone number has been removed for the sender’s privacy but the message is the same:

I am sending this to you and others who live in Arizona.  As a few of you know, my 92-1/2 old mother became a ward of the probate court in February 2008.  At the time I knew nothing of the history of the probate court system.  At that time I agreed she would be better off because she was spending too much money on junk coins and other “stuff” salesmen easily sold to a lonely widow who still loves men! My mother did not have a fortune set aside but with reasonable management it would last her and she could stay in her house until she passed. Now, the reality:  The court-appointed conservator, a for-profit company, managed to spend all of her money in about 28 months.  I am her court-appointed guardian so all the conservator had to do was pay normal household bills and try and settle some outstanding bills to those salesmen I mentioned above. We (her family) requested financial information numerous times but the most I received were incomplete schedules which often raised more questions than they answered. After the conservator spent all the money the court released them from that position.  Only at that time, after complaining again, did I get copies of monthly billing statements from the conservator.  (I have never received any financial statements so still do not know all of the liabilities that are still lurking out there.) You could have knocked me over with a feather.  The conservator charged $85 – $95 an hour for entry-level clerical duties.  Accounts payable clerks also were billed at those rates but were not skilled in those positions, so things took longer to get done and often had to be redone.  And, you guessed it, my mother had paid for every single hour. I am only going to give you one example, but it irritates me so much I need to vent a little.  In May 2009 my mother turned 91, and the conservator wanted to throw her a birthday party.  Nice gesture, I thought, especially since my mother’s court-appointed attorney, the other relatives and I understood this was going to be a gift from the conservator.  The party was very nice, but the bill was over $5,000, and as I found out a year later it was billed to and paid for by my mother!!!  House cleaning was charged at $95 per hour.  Invitations were bought and returned at $95 and more per hour plus the cost of the invitations.  The conservator knew my mother’s finances and any reasonable person would know she could not afford that amount of money.

There are two legislative bills that have been introduced this year:  House Bill 2424 and Senate Bill 1499.  THEY COULD NOT BE MORE DIFFERENT.  HB 2424 was put together with input from people who have experienced such financial and other abuses at the hands of the probate courts (I was not involved because I just became aware of the dueling bills.)  It is not perfect but goes a long was in making probate court transactions open to the wards and other interested parties.  SB 1499 was written by a committee set up to fix these probate court abuses.  Too bad the committee members are the same judges, commissioners, attorneys and conservators that are currently committing the abuses.  Talk about the fox watching the hen house!  SB 1499 does not begin to address court reform.  I’m sure the bill was introduced by legislators who had been told by the committee members that only a little “tweaking” was necessary.  This bill is a sham being perpetrated by the people who need to be held accountable. I’m sorry this e-mail is so long, but the word needs to get out that HB 2424 is GOOD, SB 1499 is BAD, BAD, BAD. If you have any questions call me at 602-xxx-xxxx and I will put you in touch with people who can answer them better than I. Thanx for taking the time to read this.  It is a very sore subject with me as my mother sits, not in her house, but in a room and board home paid for by the Arizona Long Term Care System!!!

Bob

THE COURTS vs. THE CITIZENS OF ARIZONA: an Open Letter to Friends of Liberty!

“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and  in the name of justice.”

Dear Friends of Liberty,
There is a situation in Arizona that defies the concept of liberty held by those who believe in the Rights guaranteed to all Americans; it promotes a rampant removal of those rights and supports a legal, court ordered redistribution of wealth. The victims are often left penniless, helpless, and dependant on costly taxpayer support for the rest of their lives.

* Personal wealth drained by court order through entities that are not subject to accountability, scrutiny or competition, and which legally and systematically takes millions from private citizens.

*Citizens driven to destitution by the courts and the allies of the system. Their personal savings taken under the watchful eye of the courts leaving taxpayers to support them for life!

*The state inserting itself into the role of all-knowing, all possessing and ultimate arbiter of personal relationships and property despite, and often contrary to, the written desires of the individual in their trust or Power of Attorney documents.

What is this that has invaded the rights of private citizens, usurped liberty, deprived due process and increased the burden to the taxpayer?

ARIZONA PROBATE COURT

People from every walk of life, no matter how rich or poor, strong or weak are the victims of this most un-American of actions.  Their stories are being told as the bright light of truth is starting to shine on the issue.  Read the accounts here and here

IF YOU ARE AN ARIZONA TAX-PAYER, THIS AFFECTS YOU!

There is a grassroots movement of people who have personally been subject to the unlawful taking of property, been deprived of the love and companionship of family, and actually abused at the hands of those the court ordered to give them care. They are being joined by people who refuse to accept the probate court actions done in the name of justice.

They are mobilizing to fight and will not stop until true justice prevails. They are making progress but need your help!

THEY MUST NOT STAND ALONE TO FIGHT LEGAL THIEVERY!

The Arizona Legislature will hear House Bill 2424, a bill designed to protect the people not the activist judges and special interest groups that have ignored existing laws to deny liberty to private citizens, while making fortunes in the process. The court system is pushing another “probate reform” bill, SB1499, full of “feel-good language” it does very little to provide remedies for public protection while supporting the status quo. It was written by the very same people who are currently in control of, and often profitting from, the probate system.

HB2424 must pass if the rights of the people are to prevail! Support the effort to remedy this Constitutional assault.

It is the power of the people, standing strong and united, raising their voices in unison toward a common goal that will prevail.

Use your voice to join with ours as we fight to reform the court, stop activist judges, and restore civil rights to all.

Please contact the following legislators and tell them to support HB2424, put the people first!

Rep. Kirk Adams kadams@azleg.gov                                                              

Rep. Steve Montenegro smontenegro@azleg.gov

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth efarnsworth@azleg.gov

Rep. Jerry Weiers jpweiers@azleg.gov

Rep. Debbie Lesko dlesko@azleg.gov                                                                   

Rep. David Smith dsmith@azleg.gov

Sen. Russell Pearce rpearce@azleg.gov                                                               

Sen. Sylvia Allen sallen@azleg.gov

Sen. Scott Bundgaard sbundgaard@azleg.gov                                                  

Sen. Steve Pierce spierce@azleg.gov

Sen. Linda Gray lgray@azleg.gov                                                                            

Sen. Ron Gould rgould@azleg.gov

If you are concerned about this encroachment into personal liberty, private property rights, rights of due process, and the court ordered redistribution of wealth, sign up to receive email updates on this site. We are also on facebook at Arizona Probate Reform and can be reached by email at  AZCOURTHouseSteps@gmail.com.

Please look for future information and be alert for our Call to Action as we seek legislative relief and reform.

Pass this on to those you know who are defenders of liberty!

The Hits Just Keep On Coming…OR…How to Legally Abuse, Extort, and Violate the Law While Making a Fortune!

The courtroom of Judge Rosa Mroz was standing room only Monday afternoon, February 7th.  The benches for the public full of family and attorneys, rows of pew-like wooden seats packed for the main event.  Sun Valley Group, the infamous fiduciary, was petitioning the court in an emergency action to allow them to name Entrust Fiduciary Services as the successor in guardianship to their 80 active cases.  The motion was filed just a couple of days before, leaving families, attorneys, and the court, once again, jumping through hoops scrambling to make sense of one more Sun Valley disaster.

Sun Valley Group, AKA Peter and Heather Frenette, are no stranger to the court.  They are the illustrious fiduciaries that made the story of Marie Long, well…a story.  They oversaw the liquidation of the elderly ladies fortune, authorized the use of her funds for a limo to take the octogenarian with dementia, and a few of her closest friends, to a Suns game and then invoiced her for the costly evaluation of the effect of the game on her mood. 

It could be said they put the “F” is fiduciary.     

Now, they have decided to leave the successful and lucrative careers they so dutifully developed.  What have they left as their legacy?

Gloria Horrigan….the photos of bedsores so large that they leave exposed bone are part of the horrific evidence of the abuse she suffered at the hands of the Frenettes.  Her family refused admittance to where the once beautiful and lively lady was living. Mrs. Horrigan is $500,000 lighter because of it, her house foreclosed.   Care that good isn’t cheap!   It must be expensive, since taking the time to actually turn a patient and do basic nursing care to prevent the type of injuries she sustained were not provided for that fee.

Edward Abbott Ravenscroft…a few years of frustration and hundreds of thousands of dollars later the middle aged man has recovered his independence.  But not before SVG made their way into his private estate and managed to enrich their lives along the way.

Rosemary Brown…depressed and uncooperative.  Her elderly husband thought maybe professional help would do the trick!  It was a trick all right…Mrs. Brown was neatly tucked away into one of SVG’s care centers, her family soon not allowed to see her.  In four months they sucked up $100,000 and would have taken more but, when they thought Rosemary was dying they called the family.  Well, the trick was on them because they got her out of there and she is alive to tell the story today!   

Well those days are over!  Yepiree…the doors of SVG will close on Feb. 28th.  

BUT A NEW ENDEAVOR AWAITS!!!

With the fiduciary gig getting a bit too touchy, and rumors have it uninsurable, such dedicated care givers must find a vehicle to give it to the undeserving public.  Enter in Desert Care Management!  Same address, same owners…just a little variation on a theme.  They’ve tweaked their intended victims…er… clients…from the website:

“Desert Care Management, LLC. provides a superior level of Care Management services in Arizona to persons with cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities and mental illness.”

If you need references or evidence of their superior level of care, Gloria Horrigan’s photos should suffice. 

 

In Case You Missed It: Channel 15 ABC Investigation

In case you missed it, Channel 15 ABC news launched an investigation into elder care and the Sun Valley Group.  In May, the following was released.  Sun Valley Group, once again, is cited as the exploiter and abuser.

Guardianship in Arizona: Elder care or elder abuse?

  • By: Maria Tomasch

PHOENIX – Many people move to Arizona for the weather and recreation because it’s considered a haven for retirees who want to live out their golden years. But something else is happening here – something haunting.

For Clair’s mom, Gloria Horrigan, it was a nightmare.

Clair said her mother was taken to a nursing home against her will and not allowed visitors, not even family.

“It’s sickening…It really truly is sickening,” said Clair.

It was a struggle for Robert Brown to bring his wife, Rosemary, home.

She was also taken and within a matter of weeks, the family wasn’t allowed to see her either.

What happened in both cases started in a Maricopa County Courtroom – right in front of a judge.

Both Rosemary and Gloria had health issues that made it hard on their families.

Families can’t force a loved one to get help, but a guardian can.

That’s why their cases ended up in probate court, which hears issues on care for vulnerable adults.

The court approved a guardian in both cases. And both times, the guardian was Sun Valley Group of Tempe.

Their website states they offer “support for client’s physical, social, emotional and mental health.”

As part of their service, Sun Valley Group also took care of Gloria’s personal finances.

But Clair said her mom did not get proper medical treatment and her bills weren’t paid. Gloria’s house went into foreclosure.

“I’m physically sick from seeing what they’ve done to my mother. My family, my children, everyone has been affected by this,” said Clair.

Rosemary had a similar story. She was depressed and refused medical care.

Her husband Robert needed help, so he said he agreed to let Sun Valley Group take Rosemary when they promised to make sure she got treatment.

But Robert said under the company’s care, she never did, so now family friend and doctor, Marge Butler, is Rosemary’s guardian.

“The bills were now coming at a ferried pace,” said Marge.

In total, Marge said the family spent over a $100,000. That was for just four months of Sun Valley Group’s care.

It ended when the nursing home thought Rosemary was dying. They finally allowed the family to see her.

As for Gloria, Clair said the company seemed much more interested in her mom’s money than her health.

Gloria’s final bill was just under $500,000 and included charges for an employee to open her mail at $75 an hour.

“They are supposed to be her guardian and are supposed to be like her parents and look out for her best interests,” said Clair.

After repeatedly being turned down for an on camera interview, The ABC15 Investigators went to Sun Valley Group’s office.

They asked us to leave.

We then caught up with the owner of Sun Valley, Peter Frenette, at a county courthouse.

He was leaving a probate hearing involving fees from a different case. Even after several questions, Frenette would not comment.

The ABC15 Investigators have found more issues plaguing Sun Valley Group.

Frenette’s wife, Heather, is co-owner, but she is being investigated by the Arizona nursing board.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Organized Crime Unit is also investigating Sun Valley Group.

By state law, both investigations are secret.

We also discovered three multi-million dollar lawsuits filed this year against the company for fraud and racketeering.

Grant Goodman is the attorney for three former Sun Valley Group clients.

“It’s more of a criminal enterprise,” said Goodman, “They need to be prosecuted.”

He claimed to find a pattern with these cases.

“They effectively medicate them to such an extent that they really are non-functional,” said Goodman, “And they do that while they’re liquidating their assets.”

The three lawsuits also blame probate court.

“The mob isn’t this efficient, nor does the mob have the luxury of having a court rubberstamp these proceedings,” said Goodman.

Goodman is not the only one who thinks that way.

Last month, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an Administrative Order to investigate probate court. One of the issues is regulating fees.

Now, Rosemary is back with her family and doing well. She is getting the treatment that she needs.

“We just plan to enjoy life,” said Robert.

Sun Valley Group filed motions to dismiss with the three lawsuits shown in this investigation.

Neither Gloria nor Rosemary has filed a lawsuit.

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/guardianship-in-arizona%3A-elder-care-or-elder-abuse%3F-

PRESS RELEASE: HB2424 begins change to troubled probate system

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 20, 2011

Arizona could become National leader with new laws

January 19, 2011-Phoenix, ARIZONA – Following multiple reports of devastating abuses involving Arizona probate court,   Arizona State Representative David Smith (R – Carefree) sponsored legislation that would make Arizona the nation’s leader in judicial probate reform.  House Bill 2424 seeks to remedy rampant financial exploitation and abuses by Arizona’s probate court-ordered fiduciaries and others in the court system. The concerns over probate abuses have been widely documented in the media and in a report to the United States Senate submitted in September 2010.

When asked about his motivations, Representative Smith shared in an interview with theArizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts: “I was concerned about the articles I read in the paper, some of the abuses that you point out.  In fact, I knew some of the people involved in one case.”

Sherry Lund, who is advocating for HB2424 said, “We are fighting for probate reform so no other Arizona family will suffer from the horrific abuses in the current system.  Such reform is overdue and new laws are the solution.”

HB2424 will become the national standard for probate reform.  The current draft includes:

  • Improving oversight of probate court system by establishing an advocacy panel appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President of the Senate.
  • Allowing wards, or their families, to request a change of fiduciary annually.
  • Protecting financial interests of persons in probate by “capping” certain fees while requiring the court to establish a fee schedule for others.
  • Developing stronger fiduciary accountability by requiring a monthly accounting of expenditures.
  • Ensuring the civil liberties and wishes of the ward are upheld and respected.
  • Implementing stricter qualifications for probate judges.

One of the key pieces of the new bill is the ability to replace the court appointed fiduciary annually. The case of Marie Long has been one of the most egregious stories of exploitation. When Mrs. Long was placed under the care of a court appointed fiduciary she had a $1.3 million estate, yet it was completely depleted within 4 years leaving her penniless and dependant on the state.    When asked about the provision to allow for a change of fiduciary, Jon Kitchel, attorney for Marie Long said if it includes trustess, “Unquestionably, she’d still have her money.”

Laura Knaperek, who is working on behalf of victims of probate abuse said on the bill being introduced, “At the end of the day, probate court is about families.  If abuses are occurring in the probate system, families are suffering.  This legislation is an important first step towards protecting families.  I’m very honored to work for HB 2424 with Representative Smith and the other co-sponsors.”

The Eye of the Storm

Illegal Immigration, Employer Sanctions, Medical Marijuana…these are the legal issues in which Arizona finds itself on the frontlines, all generally well-known and well-publicized.  However, there is a groundswell of action for an issue that is not so public, not so well-known as these issues, but just as insidious as illegal immigration in depriving honest people from what is rightfully theirs and every bit as controversial as the previously illegal drug, we now call medicine.  

It is Probate Reform.

Arizona has no regulation for the court ordered and protected charging of exorbitant fees, no true oversight of the who, how, and when of judicial intrusion, and no safeguards to prevent the very private lives and personal directives of citizens from being hijacked leaving them with no recourse but to defend their liberty and fight the court ordered redistribution of THEIR wealth.

Stay tuned for more…..

Action … Ethics

“Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.

- Jane Addams, the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.