The road ahead: Corrupt guardianship system needs reform - Albuquerque Journal

The road ahead: Corrupt guardianship system needs reform

My family was one of the many families victimized by a predatory guardian/executor business working under shield of secrecy in New Mexico – i.e. the legal mandate to “seal” all fiduciary and medical records of protected persons. I testified before one of the first hearings of the Commission ordered by (N.M. Supreme Court) Justice Charles Daniels.

So far, the absolute and vault-like sealing of any records pertaining to the elderly, infirm and disabled has militated against their well-being. The “sealing” provision of the law protects only malfeasant guardians and conservators, not those who are the legal “protected persons.” Those persons are actually hostages to a corrupt system, a corrupt system which we have the opportunity to reform.

The sole financial accounting my mother’s predatory guardian/executor performed was an annual, two-page, woefully general letter to the judge, who was not an accountant and lacked the skill or time to really analyze it.

The reforms recommended by the commission will cost an initial outlay of $1 million. But Ayudando allegedly embezzled and Desert State Life Management did embezzle at least $4 million from their clients. These victims were veterans, the disabled, SSI recipients: the poorest of the poor. Their funds will never be restored. How much will it cost the state to support them in their destitution?

U.S.News & World Report (in its) Nov. 21 issue reported that chief economist Jon Clark of the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee said the state’s recently depleted savings had substantially grown, and that the state had set aside an estimated $500 million as of the start of the fiscal year on July 1. The article further said that although New Mexico’s state finances had been hit hard by a 2015 downturn in the oil sector, we are enjoying a rapid turnaround.

The guardianship/executorship reform would cost only 1/500th of New Mexico’s set-aside funding. But it would impact a great segment of the population. A flood of Baby Boomers are getting older and will be at the mercy of predatory guardians and conservators very soon.

There are many demands for money at this time.

However, these victims, or hostages, have uttered “silent screams.” They are people who lack any real representation, (for example a) Holocaust survivor was not allowed to bring a journalist to a hearing before his guardian.

The $600,000 initial cost for a computer software program is a one-time investment; the commission’s recommendations balance the protected person’s vital secrecy while protecting him or her from rapacious exploitation; (and) one or two live watchdogs’ salaries is a small price to pay to protect the very most vulnerable in New Mexico.

Gov. (Susana) Martinez is uniquely positioned to aid the New Mexicans vulnerable to predatory guardians and conservators for three reasons:

1. Only she, as governor, can put this issue on the agenda for this session.

2. (She) is a lawyer (and) knows how lawyers can subvert the spirit of the law. Now the well-being of protected persons is sabotaged, not fortified, by the law. This is done with the tool of the statutory “sealing” of any records. Sunlight is a great disinfectant. With no transparency at all, there can be no accountability at all.

3. (She) is a caregiver of her sister. She knows how much caregivers love their relatives. They do not want any of the provisions stored up for their relative’s well-being to be misappropriated. Perhaps of even more importance, they do not want their relative being mistreated should the caregiver pre-decease the compromised relative. Both exploitation and abuse are rampant under the status quo.

To many readers, this is a lackluster issue. But its very low profile is by the design of rapacious predators who function most effectively in the dark alleys of non-accountability.

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