From Ohio

Tom Field’s letter to Julie Smyth of the Associated Press.


Thank you for the opportunity to present you information about what has been proposed for more than 15 years to prevent the kinds of fraud involved in this estate case.

Some of the more significant information is readily accessible from the webpage  Link descriptors there make it easy to identify much of this material.

Other material included in this website is more difficult to find.  For example, I am copying below a relevant article regarding the $100 million estate of Cincinnati philanthropist Charles H. Dater.  As in the Brooke Astor case, it is alleged that the decedent was taken advantage of while questionably competent.  Existing law cannot be counted upon to prevent or remedy such abuse and so promotes legal conflicts which benefit opportunists and lawyers.  The legal reforms which I have advocated for more than 15 years ago address this deficiency in ways that are based upon insights of experts like a past president of  the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law (Irwin Perr, MD, JD), recommendations of the American Medical Association (as reported by the Ohio State Medical Association), existing Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code 2107.081 – 2107.085), personal experience and common sense.

In addition to the material included in the website, I have saved years of correspondences with others, including authorities and other victims of such negligence and fraud.  These correspondences could provide any interested reporter a valuable resource.  One reporter who expressed some interest in such resources was Barry Yeoman, the North Carolina writer who was commissioned by AARP to write the story “Stolen Lives” which AARP published in 2003.  Barry was referred to me while collecting material for his article by Diane Armstrong, a leader in the struggle against guardianship abuse.

Estate fraud is a serious national problem.  It is not getting the kind of attention it needs.  In particular, evidence and proposed safeguards are being swept under the rug by individuals who are responsible for addressing them.  This in turn has prompted me and others to advocate additional legal reforms, such as an amendment to the Older Americans Act and an enhancement of the court reporting system.  The latter proposal, which would make the court system more transparent, seems at first blush similar to a proposal which I recently watched Senator Bill Bradley describe for the purpose of making the federal budget transparent)

Because this problem is national in scope, involving negligence and corruption at both the state and local level (such as reported by the St. Petersburg Times in its Pulitzer Prize winning story “Final Indignities”), this is a big story.  Please do what you can to give both the problem and the proposed reforms the attention they both need and deserve.

Thank you,

Tom Fields
6860 Georgetown Drive
Mentor, Ohio 44060

Stories of Denial