Estate of Denial news clips (3/25/16)

Problems with Guardianship Abuse Leading to Calls for Reform

March 18, 2016

A growing problem with adult guardianship abuse is causing calls to reform the system. Vulnerable elderly can get caught in the guardianship system, being harmed and exploited by the very process that is supposed to protect them.

A guardian is someone appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual (“ward”). The guardianship process usually starts when a family member or social worker notifies the court that someone can’t take care of him- or herself. The court often appoints a family member as guardian. However, if the family can’t agree on a guardian or there is no family to act as guardian, the court may appoint a public guardian. Public guardians are supposedly neutral individuals who are hired to act in the ward’s best interest.


Ex-Lawyer Shamed By Victim, Judge At Sentencing For Stealing From Disabled Man (CT)

Hartford Courant

March 18, 2016

NEW BRITAIN — Former lawyer Michael Schless received a 10-year suspended sentence Friday for stealing $47,746 from a disabled man whose finances he managed as a court-appointed conservator – but first he heard his victim tell how badly the theft hurt him, and how the probate system let him down.

“In the past I trusted people, and trusted lawyers and the courts. Now I don’t trust people anymore,” said John Fritz, 66, of Wethersfield, who has had cerebral palsy all his life. “I told the probate court something was wrong” — as his funds dwindled from $120,000 to $20,000 under Schless’ management — “and the court ignored me.”


Gallup: Most Americans Side With Trump, Cruz To Ditch The Estate Tax


March 18, 2016

Most Americans side with Republican presidential candidates, saying they would ditch the federal estate tax, according to a new Gallup poll on reactions to the candidates’ tax proposals. When asked about the proposal to “eliminate the estate tax that is paid when a person dies,” 54% agreed, only 19% disagreed, and 26% said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

Yet, the other proposal to get majority support in the Gallup poll was Trump’s proposal to “eliminate most federal income tax deductions and loopholes available to the very rich.” For that one, 63% of Americans agreed, 17% disagreed, and 19% said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.


Sumner Redstone’s Medical Records to Stay Private, Judge Rules

The New York Times

March 18, 2016

The medical records of the media mogul Sumner M. Redstone will remain confidential, but some other court documents, including emails written by his nurses and a letter from Mr. Redstone to his daughter, Shari, will be made public, a California judge ruled on Friday.

A total of 15 documents will be unsealed, Judge David J. Cowan of the Los Angeles County Superior Court said.


Probate Judges Urged to Use Mediation More Often in Emotionally Charged Cases (CT)

Connecticut Law Tribune

March 22, 2016

Probate court cases are often emotionally charged, with family members arguing about such topics as the terms of a will or how to best handle an elderly parent’s care.

While probate court judges routinely hold hearings and issue decisions, probate courts also offer mediation, a chance for the parties to resolve their disputes amicably and in a less formal setting. The state’s probate court leadership is pushing for more cases to be resolved this way.


Australia considers “death tax” to reclaim unpaid university fees (AUS)

Shanghai Daily

March 23, 2016

CANBERRA, March 23 (Xinhua) — The Australian government could soon collect student loan debts from deceased estates, in a move slammed as a “death tax” by the opposition.

The controversial move is being considered by the Turnbull government, and would involve the government dipping into the estates of those who owed money on their “HECS” university debt account. According to a leading analyst, it could save the government up to 610 million U.S. dollars every year.