Are we missing the forest for the trees? Question from Scott Evans

I thank Scott very much for going to court for both Mary and Gloria about a gazillion times and taking wonderful notes and thinking these very inciteful thoughts he is willing to share with us all.  Read on…..

From Scott:

Overview: All endeavors that are a work-in-progress tend to suffer from, “… the forest for the trees syndrome”.   Hardworking persons in any endeavor can get wrapped up in their own immediate perspective and miss things or take them for granted, things that a broader view would consider important.

Since Mary passed the Illinois written drivers test plus the driving test just a few months before being declared incompetent and thus being made a Ward of the Court, I can’t help but wonder what other similar anomalies go along with her case. For instance, what would be the typical events in the life of someone who actually had significant dementia? The driver’s license issue begs the question of what else is out there that the Friends and Family of Mary Sykes (FFMS) have gotten so used to that these other keys points have been ignored, lost in the forest.

Some examples: If the Sykes case was a legitimate Plenary Guardianship based on significant dementia ——-

REGULAR REPORTING ON HEALTH OF WARD: In other Probate cases I and Gloria have sat through, the Plenary Guardian (PG), the GAL, and family members regularly report on the health and wellbeing of the Ward of the Court. Usually, this is in some detail, occasionally in strict medical terms plus medical reports that are entered into the record.

For Mary Sykes, an abbreviated, very generalized and short discussion is used, which varies from “….she is doing wonderfully..”, to “….she has taken a turn for the worst….” — all without details, without prior reporting to other family members and without written medical statements put into the record.

FAMILY ACCESS TO THE COURT: In other cases, family members gather at the bench, tell their relevant stories on the condition of the Ward, often at length while the lawyers just give important but usually concise information.

For Mary Sykes, Mary is discussed minimally or not at all.

DUTIES OF GUARDIANS: I would bet that most Wards of the Court have friends and family that are encouraged by the Court to visit the Ward and foster independence and wellbeing. Those concepts are included in “Guidelines for Guardians” as put out by the Presiding Judge of Probate Court. Gloria and I have watched Judge Stuart go to noticeable and even poignant lengths on the proper treatment of the Ward and the Duties of the Plenary Guardian.

The exception is Mary Sykes. Has the Plenary Guardian ever met the Judge? Isn’t a report required every 12 months on the health, wellbeing and financial condition of the Ward?  Given all the hearings, would most Judges make a point of meeting the Plenary Guardian?

CONTINUING CONFIRMATION OF NEED OF 24/7 CARE. If the need for 24/7 care was what made the Plenary Guardianship necessary in the first place, shouldn’t that be reported on regularly and supported in detail?  [On May 11, I watched Judge Stuart give strict instructions to a new Plenary Guardian that follow-up reports on the condition of the Ward CANNOT say, “…same as before…or… no change….” The condition must be spelled out in each report.]

For Mary Sykes, what gets used are short, glib statements by three lawyers ( I use that term loosely) who  have a glaring and roughly 6 figure conflict of interest.

SOCIAL CONTACT: For persons suffering from dementia, contact with old friends and family members would be part of their ‘prescription’ for wellbeing.  [On May 11, 2012, Judge Stuart read to two new Plenary Guardians from the guidelines for guardians and emphasized that the duty of a guardian includes helping the Ward of the Court to achieve, “…maximum self-reliance and independence….within limits of safety….”

For Mary Sykes, isolation, minimal to zero self-reliance, total and enforced DEPENDENCE on the Guardian,  including forced isolation such as not being allowed to use the phone to make or even receive calls except for special occasions, about twice a year , is considered by her Plenary Guardian and her two GALS as what is ‘best’ for Mary’s wellbeing.  Of course as we all know, it is only best for the ease of looting Mary’s hard-earned financial assets, the entire purpose of the Guardianship in the first place.  The ‘lawyers’ who practice this type of ‘law’ refer to it as, “churning the estate”.   It is their business plan to transfer an elder’s money to their own pockets.

WISE USE OF FINANCIAL ASSETS: For most dementia suffers, careful husbanding of the financial assets is carefully prescribed by the Court. I have seen it discussed in detail while sitting through other probate cases.

For Mary Sykes, the lawyers (that keep Mary in the situation she clearly has stated she does not want be in) have openly complained that they haven’t been paid. Clearly, the sale of Mary’s house is to pay the people (I use that term loosely) that are responsible for Mary losing her Constitutional rights as opposed to being sold for Mary’s future care.

In fact it can be argued that if Mary actually did suffer from Plenary Guardianship levels of dementia, she would have been treated far better. And since the FFMS know Mary does not have significant dementia, it is overlooked because it is a false accusation. However, the result of knowing that truth has been to inadvertently allow the alleged criminals (sorry Ken, “miscreants” is just too much of a euphemism) to carry on to approach their self-centered financial goals. And since we take it for granted that this case is only about Carolyn and her lawyers protecting their own financial windfall and to counter Carolyn being cut out of half of Mary’s Will/trust, if not all of it, as of June through September 2009, the tendency has been to get caught up in the ‘crisis du jur’ and not concentrate on the basics, the merits of the case. There is no finger pointing here; this is just how these things work out sometimes in any endeavor.

Until an incident like the driver’s license issue acts as a reminder, the broader picture gets lost in the current events; …the forest for the trees. After all, Tim, initially a year and a half ago, suggested that going back to the beginning was a solution. An April or May, 2009 drivers test would certainly qualify as going back to basics.

As far as dealing with dementia of an elder family member goes, I have no background in that. My paternal grandparents died early, my maternal grandparents and great grandparents were in fine mental shape up to their passing.  So, please modify or add to the above examples of standard treatment and actions concerning a Ward of the Court versus the “special” actions surrounding Mary.

I suspect there are many relevant issues similar to the driver’s license issue that could be added to it. I assume that putting them into play at the same time is better than doing it piecemeal.


1 thought on “Are we missing the forest for the trees? Question from Scott Evans

  1. Judge Stuart has met the Plenary Guardian, Carolyn Toerpe. She has never asked about or met my mother the Ward, Mary G. Sykes. She doesn’t want to have be be embarrassed as Judge Connors was on both August 26, 2009 and September 21, 2009, to learn that my Mother is highly competent and would, once again, ask to return home, to be with me and OBJECT to the guardianship. Not only did my mother take and pass her driver’s test end of 2008 beginning of 2009, I bought her new digital hearing aids end of 2008 beginning 2009 and her audiologist not only found her highly competent, but also recommended Mother to be part of a study on elders with hearing loss. That said, mom only attended two sessions and quit because it was easier to work on my computer at home with me. The Plenary Guardian stopped all support and prevented mother from ‘learning how to listen’ with her new digital hearing aids. In fact is it a fact that Carolyn Toerpe, the Plenary Guardian has never taken mother back to Sonas for follow up or check ups which are all paid for:! And finally, Scott forgot to mention that he and his mother attended Mother’s 90th birthday surprise party on or about January 4, 2009. Mother had about 35 guests and knew each one of them by name… In March Mother traveled with me to LA where we spend a few weeks: mother attended business meetings with me, and hung out with me and my friends. so why is it such a big deal that Mother passed her driver’s test?

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