Guardianships putting thousands of elderly Texans at risk

Documents show they’re losing their rights

Repost from: The Houston Chronicle 


Updated 11:01 p.m., Thursday, November 3, 2011

Under a court-ordered guardianship, 86-year-old widow Helen Hale was plucked from the house she and her husband had built on wooded acreage in Cypress for their retirement and relocated to an unlicensed group home run by a caregiver with a criminal history.

Across Texas, 30,000 to 50,000 disabled and elderly people like Hale have lost the right to decide where they live, to choose a caretaker or to spend their life savings after being declared incapacitated and ordered into guardianships, according to new estimates obtained by the Houston Chronicle from the Texas Office of Court Administration and interviews with probate court officials statewide.

Nationally, the number of people declared “incapacitated” is rapidly increasing as the population ages. And so have reports about mistreatment, neglect and problems involving relatives and non-relatives appointed to protect them, according to warnings from the federal Government Accountability Office.

In August, Hale’s daughter Jane Goings dropped by the group home and found her mother ill.

“I just knew that there was something wrong with her. Her coloring didn’t look right. My mom looked like a limp noodle,” said Goings, who prior to Hale’s 2011 guardianship lived next door to her mother and shared her care with other siblings.

At Goings’ urging, Hale was rushed to a hospital where doctors found dangerously low potassium levels and a urinary tract infection, according to medical records and interviews with her children.

‘The living dead’

In some of the state’s largest counties, like Harris, Travis and Bexar, so many people are in guardianships that each probate judge oversees from 1,500 to 3,000 “wards” of the court. Yet most judges have only a single investigator to check out potential problems.

Across Texas, courts don’t have enough staffto visit wards even once a year. That means, in many places, that no one is guarding the guardians, though some judges recruit volunteers to do so.

“They lose their rights – they’re the living dead,” declared Houston advocate Latifa Ring, who has argued for reforms and pushed for increased oversight by Congress. “There’s a systemic problem in guardianships.”

GAO reports this year and in 2010 warned that many elderly and disabled people – including many veterans – had been exposed to neglect and rip-offs under guardianship.

Family usually steps in

In most Texas cases, relatives serve as unpaid guardians. Statewide, however, many courts are being forced to hire non-relatives or attorneys to oversee assets, care and other personal decisions because the family is unable or unwilling to do so.

Over the last 12 months, Texas judges ordered a total of $5 million in fees paid to guardians, new state data obtained by the Chronicle shows.

Bexar County has an unusually high number of guardianship cases – about 6,000, which is almost as many as Harris County – because so many military members retire to San Antonio, but have no children or relatives nearby, court officials say.

In some guardianship cases, including Hale’s, lawyers get appointed after families fight over the care of an elderly or disabled relative. Those guardians are paid out of the assets of disabled and elderly Texans.

Hale’s first lawyer guardian was Marcia Pevey, the highest-paid guardian in Texas in the last year, data analyzed by the Chronicle shows. From August 2010 to September 2011, Pevey collected more than $200,000 for guardianship services – more than anyone else statewide.

Pevey did not respond to requests for comment for this story. She was ordered to be paid $13,421 in October for acting as guardian for Hale, who receives only $1,700 monthly as a railroad widow.

Hale first ended up in Harris County probate court in February, a few months after the death of her husband Edward “Bunny” Hale, a longtime Southern Pacific Railroad employee.

Pevey was named guardian because of allegations that one of Hale’s sons had substance abuse problems and had failed to properly care for her, and that some of her children owed her money.

New home, guardian

Hale was removed in August from the group home Pevey selected, and now lives in another facility under another lawyer guardian. One of Hale’s six children hopes to regain control over their mother’s guardianship in a case set for next week. Meanwhile, records show that the total fees charged to Hale exceed $26,000.


Posted on November 9, 2011, in Abuse, Conservator, Elder Abuse, Exploitation, Guardianship, Guardianship Abuse, Guardianships & Conservatorships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. See the LINDYGATE case in Texas. United States Department of Justice case DJ- 144- 74- 6219 murder of federal informant Lindy Honerkamp pertaining to the “break in” into government computer databases, and the cover up principal used by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott committing Medicaid fraud, and other reprehensible acts of retaliation against Carol Ann Davis in Harris County, Texas. See Harris County misdemeanor case 174264 and Greg Abbott’s ‘executive privilege ‘ to cover up and other cover up of false charges. Lindy suffered retaliation and intimidation due to her assistance to federal law enforcement in a federal criminal case of conspiracy filed against former Texas Speaker of the House Gus Mutscher infamous for the SHARPSTOWN Bank fraud scandal otherwise known as the Shadow on the Alamo. But the U.S. v Gus Mutscher H- 91-175 is not widely known; in fact it’s like a dirty little secret in the state of Texas. Lindy Harrison Honerkamp is the ex-wife of Texas Ethics Commissioner Attorney Warren “Tom” Harrison. Tom Harrison owed Lindy over $ 250,000 in back child support. The court RICO victims hold the truths of the document evidence of a fraudulent identity, murder base in fact and law, and a forged thumbprint to be self evident including violations of “fair use” among other violations of state and federal law risking national security by manufacturing fraudulent identities to obtain wrongful convictions, and other crimes of extortion, police, prosecutorial, judicial misconduct including ‘defense’ lawyer misconduct. In the early 1990’s FBI Agent Ron Stern solicited Carol Ann Davis. Finally U.S. Senator John Cornyn has taken an interest since 2007 and has seen the very damaging evidence against the state of Texas and the ugly realities of the crimes committed against the children of the State of Texas.

    Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner Carol Ann Davis from her civil rights attorney Jerry S. Payne 713-785-0677


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