published with permission
Senior Lives Matter
The endgame of professional guardianship exploitation in America is financial gain. That should be obvious. But what may not be so obvious is the stealthy strategy utilized by the probate court insiders to maximize their gains and leverage them in what can rightfully be called a formalized process of wealth transfer from wards to the court insiders.
The obvious and direct fashion by which lawyers, guardians and others expropriate the savings and earnings of a lifetime from award are through legal and guardian fees. These fees which are almost always excessive and redundant are routinely approved at nearly 100% of the ask by the complicit and compliant probate administrative judge.
But what goes on behind-the-scenes in order for the big cash out may be of interest to you because it reveals the sophisticated nature of the financial transactions necessary to fully leverage a guardianship for the benefit of the court insiders.
To illustrate this process let’s create a representative scenario using pseudonyms. The players are:
The Guardian: Ms. Screwem
Guardians’ lawyer: Mr. Cheatham
The judge: Judge Howe
The ward: Mrs. Whitehair
The charity: Archbishop O’Greedy
The Appraiser: Mr. Foneybooks
The location: Greased Palm Beach. Florida
So Screwem Cheatham and Howe conspire to take Whitehair’s home which has an actual real market value of $1,000,000. Here’s how they do it.
After initiating guardianship by whatever means necessary, guardian Screwem musters all the assets of Whitehair by court order from Howe, including her fully paid for residence, any vehicles, the contents of her safe deposit box, any items of value in her home and all her documents relating to financial instruments including investment accounts, retirement accounts, annuities, life insurance policies, prepaid burial arrangements. Screwem immediately proceeds to dispose of them in order to make them into readily available cash deposited in accounts that only Screwem controls. Some valuable items like expensive jewelry or collectibles suddenly “cannot be located “ or later mysteriously disappear from the mandatory accounting required by judge Howe who simply accepts this explanation. By sheer unbelievable coincidence some valuable items that look exactly like the ward’s property that had disappeared –never to be seen again by the family—seem magically to be re-appear on the wrists, fingers and lapels of some of the court insiders and their cronies — just a coincidence to be sure. Items that cannot be sold or are not worth the effort of selling particularly those of only sentimental value are either
- intentionally destroyed
- auctioned off to desperate family members who must bid against each other for them
- donated to either a charity in return for personal tax deduction for Screwem or
- given to privately owned antique stores for resale, some of those stores belonging to the spouse of Screwem
Motor vehicles, leisure craft, boats, motorcycles and even bicycles wind up at sellers of used vehicles frequented by the court insiders for tiny fractions of their actual value (kindly certified by the use car vehicles own internal appraiser). Ostensibly this takes place because of the urgent need to raise cash to “care for the ward” and avoid having to deal with family members who might argue that the property had been sold at ridiculously low valuations.
During all this time, assets are “conserved” by not paying Whitehair’s
- property insurance
- property taxes
- maintenance or maintenance fees
- income taxes
- utility bills
- health insurance premiums
But at the same time, Cheatham and Screwem’s burgeoning hourly fees are accumulating. Amazingly their court request for payment of these fees will only be submitted to the court when the total of those fees is roughly equal to the value of an appraisal of the only remaining asset of Whitehair’s, her home, performed by Mr. Foneybooks who is the appraiser of choice for Cheatham. That appraisal for $200,000 takes into account the “dilapidated condition of the house, the need for repairs, the taxes that need to be paid” and all sorts of other assorted reasons why the house has been legitimately appraised at so far below market value. This appraisal is blindly accepted by judge Howe at $200,000.
Cheatham approaches Judge Howe in an emergency hearing telling a story that the guardianship is running out of funds “to pay for the care of the ward” and that the only option is to sell her home. Howe agrees and orders that the house be sold at the best possible price based on the lowball appraisal from Foneybooks.
Once the sale is authorized, rather than listing the house on the typical real estate listing services, the sale is not advertised to anyone except Cheatham. No offers are made on the house until Cheatham or one of his associates makes an offer of $100,000 cash. That offer is presented to the judge as the only available option to raise money for the “care of the ward”. Judge Howe approves the sale and Cheatham writes a check to the guardians account for the ward in exchange for ownership of the house.
Immediately, Cheatham arranges with Foneybooks to have a new appraisal performed this time appraising the house at its full real market value of $1 million. During the prior week’s he has already lined up an actual retail buyer, Joe Public, who is willing to pay $900,000 which is a below-market bargain. Public buys the house for cash.
By this time Cheatham and Screwem submit their bills to the court for services that are up-to-the-minute and they just happen to equal the total amount of the proceeds from the sale to Cheatham.
The court approves the fees and thereby wipes out the estate of the ward. Totally and legally. Now the ward has become totally dependent on taxpayer-funded services for every aspect of their life from residence to medications to health insurance and food and drink. Taxpayers are now footing the bill for Whitehair who before the guardianship had more than enough money to take care of herself for at least two lifetimes.
In the meantime Cheatham laid out $100,000 and wound up with a net profit of $800,000 for his trouble. Whether those profits are ever reported as income is not clear. It is also not clear whether Cheatham “compensates” Foneybooks for his generous appraisals– one lowball and the other highball.
All the past due taxes and fees are paid by the new owner who takes out title insurance and has still managed to get a million-dollar home for far below market value.
There is an alternative to this scenario however which is even more impressive.
Once Cheatham, a devout Catholic, acquires the property, he informs Archbishop O Greedy that out of the generosity of his heart he would like to donate the residence of the ward to the church. He proceeds to complete a quitclaim deed naming the church as the new owner of the property for $100. The church then does whatever repairs are necessary and sells it at full or nearly full market value– as appraised by Mr. Foneybooks again- through its extensive network of realtors and representatives. In return for his incredible largess, Archbishop O Greedy presents attorney Cheatham with a donation letter indicating that he can deduct nearly all of the full appraised value of the property he so graciously donated to the church from his income taxes over the next several years. This arrangement works so beautifully that Cheatham arranges the donation of over 100 such homes to the Archbishop’s church over just a few years in Greased Palm Beach County Florida, for example.
With all the cash money that is sloshing around from these transactions, all of them hidden from taxation, there is plenty to go around to grease the wheels for the next transaction.
The church also has other options since it pays no taxes, it can do minimal repairs on the property– often donated– and rent the property in perpetuity while at the same time taking out a mortgage on the property once or twice to dramatically increase cash flow. This might explain why certain church based organizations in Greased Palm Beach Florida have real estate divisions.
The impact on the ward is quite obvious– financial death. The impact on the federal and state government is also obvious no taxes paid on the property transfer, property tax or sales profit.
The records of all these transactions can be conveniently concealed since guardianship records are routinely sequestered by the court.
Another interesting business tactic is that guardianship firms like Screwem’s are established as nonprofits doing public good and thus not having to pay taxes. Despite raking in multimillion-dollar revenues every year, huge operating expenses and salaries which count against revenues amazingly wipe out any potential profit that might result in a tax liability. Of course official revenues for tax records don’t normally include or identify kickbacks to and from downstream vendors, bribes to law enforcement and politicians.
This culture of creative exploitation might also include judge Howe. How?
- lawyers practicing in front of the judge procuring donations to the judge’s reelection committee
- insider deals for real estate development
- private placements for investment opportunity
- blackmailing among and between members of the court insider cabal
- mortgage and real estate fraud
The scheme and playbool under discussion is complex and opaque and beautifully hidden from the public and litigants. It is almost foolproof because evidence of these tactics is nearly impossible to acquire. It is the perfect crime.
When an innocent individual loses their rights, especially to an unneeded, illegitimate guardianship populated by uncontrolled unmonitored and unsupervised greed based court insiders human traffickers, the outcome is almost always the same– financial ruin, exceeding cruel isolation and miserable death by guardianship.
Is it time for us to start chanting and demonstrating “Senior Lives Matter”?
written by Dr. Sam Sugar, Director of aaapg.net