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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - September 23, 1987, New Braunfels, Texas NftlOA G New Texas September d Editors Note America Is and its elderly are otten vlctlmlted ty the guardianship system that Is supposed to protect For a the Associated Press examined the guardianship process tor the elderly This Is part of the series detailing what the AP ByPAULRECER Associated Press Writer HOUSTON AP In the guar dianship of the elderly in its only the money that is checked Guardians of even modest estates must post bonds and are required by law to give meticulous financial accountings of estates every though the courts are lax in enforce But the states probate courts devote almost no continuing atten tion to the welfare and health of the State law says an annual report on the condition of the ward should be but this is virtually ignored by the guardians and seldom enforc ed by the In more than 75 files examined by The Associated only 4 percent contained reports on the The wards condition Is the primary Issue In the initial guar dianship Most Judges require a doctors statement on the wards medical and the ap plication lists the wards residence and the proposed guardians reasons for seeking an incompeten cy But after the files are usual ly blank on the welfare of the Only rarely is there any hint of the wards where the ward or how the wards time is These indications usually are from reported None of the files checked included a pro gnosis for the wards possible return to Under the Texas guardianship according to Gladys a Galveston attorney who specializes in the The estate is being but as to the per sonal welfare of the I really couldnt ship Wards who are In nursing as are the majority in generally are well cared Burwell A separate set of government rules and regulations cover But the health and welfare of those staying with family or friends is seldom monitored by the When abuses of the wards are it usually is as a result of reports from doctors or from con cerned neighbors who call said Judy direc tor of the adult protective services branch of the Texas Department of Public That is one reason some experts on Texas guardianship system have proposed establishing a program of court Under this a professional welfare worker would periodically visit each of the check their recent medical history and living and report back to the said Harris County Probate Judge Pat If the court visitor finds abuses or In whos watching the ward instead of the money inadequate a Judge could order a show cause hearing to determine if the guardian should be discharged and a new one Thomas Featherston a Baylor professor of law who heads a State Bar of Texas committee stu dying said the cur rent statutes require guardians to file annual reports on the status of the but these are not detail Featherston such reports usually are not prepared because there is no penalty for not doing it and there is no realistic en forcement Tarrant County Probate Judge Pat who recently devised a checklist on the wards personal status for guardians to fill out and mall said he already has received a good number of Some people are intimidated by having to file a formal report to the court and this makes it easier for Ferchill I Procedures vary widely in counties Bw JPMMICBD nivnu By JENNIFER DIXON Associated Press Writer BROWNSVILLE AP Pencil marks dot the annual accountings in adult guardianship cases on file in Dallas as auditors for the probate judges doublecheck spending of the wards estates each In Brownsville and probate courts in Texas rural guardianships cases linger on the books without any accountings often the last entry is the order establishing the guar There are no annual reports of how the wards money was spent or how the wards are do and no inventory of the wards It is a if money is and they guardians are spending that but what can we do here says Esther Cameron County deputy county Cornejos feelings echo those of court of ficials across rural who say they have too much to do and too little money to ensure guar dians are following state probate The law requires an inventory of the wards estate 60 days after a guardianship of the estate is annual reports of the wards status are required of guardians of the person and annual accountings are required from guardians of the often the same The problem is that once they get the order they lose said Gregg County Judge Henry They dont want to pay the at torney for filing the annual But with the states strapped Atkin like many others cant afford to add any much less someone to just monitor If you put on an additional employee just for that youd be he In some of the states small guardian ships cases are just a fraction of the caseload of the county an elected position that docs not require a candidate to be an Those judges also hear misdemeanor criminal small civil lawsuits and other probate and serve as the countys chief executive of ficer and as chairman of the county commis sioners Hill County Judge Charles who is not an does all those jobs with just one assis I handled 50 criminal cases In Herd said in Were spread prettv There are so many duties on a poor old county and his duties are so if you work at it you could probably spend 18 hours a day work he In the larger probate judges hear guardianship cases and have enough staff to keep up with In Dallas all three probate judges have and in Tarrant both judges have an auditor and share a second person who helps with Auditors in those counties tally the annual ac countings and send out letters when accountings are A judge can remove a guardian for failing to fulfill the duties of including failure to file Not one of the states 254 counties has a court in vestigator who makes visits and tries to ensure the information in the accountings truly reflects the status of the wards estate or said former Dallas County Probate Judge David now in private legal Even though the law requires annual accoun there is no way a judge can verify the truth of the statements in other than to rely on the affidavits Jackson Although the larger counties have bigger Jackson said he thinks inequities slip by more easily in the big In a small Everybody knows everybody and everybody knows what everybody is doing and they would know when someone is be ing taken advantage Jackson Our guardianship laws are he said Its the people who enforce the laws who are in Another difference between the metropolitan and rural counties is the metropolitan judges in sistence on medical statements attesting to a wards incompetence before a guardianship can be Although the law does not require medical statements for permanent guardianships only in cases in which the guardians gains limited powers some judges insist on physicians Tarrant County Judge Pat Ferchill said he wont establish a guardianship without the statement of a medical doctor or doctor of In Dallas probate judges routinely ap point an attorney to represent the proposed ward in a permanent guardianship but ap pointing what are known as ad litem attorneys is extremely rare in rural The appointment is optional wider the law in permanent Id sure hate to see a case where they didnt have an ad said Dallas attorney Wnvne who has done such work AIDS patients may create new need for guardians By JENNIFER DIXON Associated Press Writer FORT WORTH AP A teacher hospitalized with AIDS quickly developed brain problems that af fected his ability to but didnt require intensive medical The hospital contacted his family in but they didnt want to br ing him His elderly mother refused to come to Texas and care for the terminally ill man at his trailer and nursing homes wouldnt accept him So the needing someone who could approve medical treat ment for the 44yearold man and handle his financial turned to the Tarrant County probate court to find a Decisions about the care of aban doned AIDS sufferers may increas ingly fall to probate especial ly since dementia has been included in the list of the diseases said Tarrant County Probate Judge Pat This is the modernday said Steven Sotman of Fort a doctor certified in internal medicine and infectious Guardianships in Texas tradi tionally have been established for mentally retarded or men tally ill adults and the mentally in competent but Ferchill said he believes AIDS could create another dimension of especially if the disease spreads beyond highrisk groups such as homosexuals and intravenous drug users and into the general popula The federal Centers for Disease Control added dementia and emacia tion to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Kaposis sarcoma ef fective 1 as indicator symptoms for Studies indicate about 80 percent of AIDS patients have some degree of brain abnormality before but in only one of about 20 cases is dementia the main Sotman Ferchill learned of the teachers plight when the hospitals manager of social services notified the court the man needed someone to handle his financial affairs and asked that a guardian be According to court documents filed in Tarrant the patients checks from the Fort Worth Indepen dent School District were being directly deposited into his but his salary ran only through His family lives in and does not want the respon sibility of caring for his financial a letter from the social ser vices manager I feel strongly that the patient needs a guardian appointed to care for these Ferchill said he filed a petition seeking a suitable guardian because he believes it is his responsibility under the Texas probate code when the needs of a possible incompetent are brought to the courts A hearing was set on the petition for but the man died before took Ferchill said he foresees special responsibilities for the guardian of an A IDS 1 imagine guardians will have a difficult time finding a placement for them in a health care facility or whatever it may he 1 believe there is a point in time when they do not need hospital but they do need care services 1 think a guardian might meet up with some difficulty placing wards who do not need intensive medical care that a hospital can and in paying the enormous cost of this disease I imagine guardians will also have to do some ad vocating with insurance companies to make sure they AIDS patients do obtain the maximum benefits for whatever coverage they do have An AIDS patients medical bills can reach to from the time of diagnosis until death a span of usually a Sotman Most must be hospitalized once or twice between diagnosis and but otherwise can be cared for he Under the Texas probate residents can designate who they would want appointed guardian in case of incapacitation and also list those they would not want A designation against someone pro hibits a judge from ever appointing that Ferchill said People refuse to deal with the con cept that you may lose your he said The greatest insult is that youll become a bumbling idiot and they refuse to sign a guardianship or a power of attorney Hunter Junction Village of Gruene New Tx 6294900 Closed Monday 106 Weekdays 108 Weekends HEARING AID CENTER Courtyard Shopping Center 201B IN 35 West New Braunfels PNONE 82MM1 No curds No lubes No wires Inner may be your answer TWO YEAR WARRANTY Itndudmg lass or dnmvgel TME HEARING AM AOVMTISfB Ml HtfMator FNEE MEANING TEST Types of Hearing Aids Evaluations Telephone Amplifiers Plugs Protectors Htm MaMMfUS QiLV MfliMM Alt QfHU When you buy your HearingA id from we will always be to give you Phone 62fISi1 thru announces the opening of his office for the Practice of GENERAL ADULT AND PEDIATNIC UNDLDfiV Including the Treatment of Impotence and Infertility 189 East Austin Suite 106 New Tx 78130 62510031 Office Hours by Appointment Guardianships designed to help incompetent adults BYPAULRECER Associated Prtis Writer GALVESTON AP Guardian ships are time expensive and sometimes but ex perts say they can be the only way to assure an incompetent adult receives proper care and In the vast majority of the need for a guardian is since the proposed ward is In a nursing home or the pro spective ward recognizes the need for and accepts a guardianship ar But in a relatively small number of the issues are not as It is principally for these cases that Texas guardianship laws include rules designed to protect the rights and welfare of Thats often the way the law said Galveston County Judge Jerome You impose expensive steps to cover a very small percentage of cases where there could be There are two fundamental types of guardianships temporary or permanent and either can be for the protection of the wards estate or A temporary guardianship usually is granted because of an immediate such as a medical Jones said In temporary guardianship the judge is required to appoint an at torney to represent the ward and set a competency hearing within M The ward and any known relativis are notified by summons and a not iff is posted on the courthouse wall For permanent no action can be taken toward the svard until a hearing is held In these the svard and relatives are nodded and the notice is but the judge is not required to appoint an at The may re quest an attorney or the court may chose to appoint In larger such as Dallas and judges routinely ap point an attorney to represent a potential but in the smaller a ward rarely is If the ward is the lawyer is paid by the county And If the ward is he Is encouraged to he pre sent at the though an Associated Press survey of more than 75 files indicated that rarely happens The law assumes that if you are not then youll do something about Jones said That something is usually a legal showdown txlwevn thost setking the guardianship and the ward and an at torney who claim it is unneccessun At issue Is the ability of the ward to care for himself and his the fundamental questions of competen In a serious both sides could present expert in cluding medical opinion and citizens commenting on the behavior of the It can get quite said Gladys a Galveston at torney specializing in the With one stroke of the the judge can take fundamental civil rights from the ward and give the guardian control of the wards life and financial Jones and other judges say that if the question of competency is a close they generally will rule in favor of the A guardian has W days after the judges ruling to file an Inventory of the wards and then must ftlc annual By the guardian also must file an annual report on the wards condi tion and but an AH survey of almost 100 guardianship files found this is almost universally ignored Most people are appalled at the amount of paperwork and court fws involved in even a simple guardian Burwell When you tell them what all is In most people will back she The larger the the more complex the work becomes Court approval is needed to sell anything from the estate and for the guardian to make systematic bank withdrawals to finance the dayto day needs of the Kvory penny used must be accounted a rule designed to prevent guardians from using funds for any purpose other than the Jones said The system only if the court closely monitors the guar and the AC survey showed many are virtually ignored once they are granted The cost of operating a guardian ship usually comes from the and most often is a big expense Court set by can run into thousands during a long guar said Ms Burwell in itial application costs and each sale of property from the estate costs another Iostings are each Copying of files cost up to 2 a and have hundreds o pages If court testimony from a doctor is required in a the cost can range fromltou to To all youve got to add the attorneys fees to prepare the Ms Burwell said Guardianships are not cheap D Texas 3mmerce Bank Downtown New Braunfels During the Comal County Fair 25th Lobby Closed During the Parade Main Bank will Close at 1 Motor Bank Regular Hours in Richard Pryor Critical Condition A comedy of epidemic ftU ikDl rUMU jf j VHS Bete i q On u Uttl New Braunfels Startsville Scherte 6292120 8992316 6584530
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