In the wake of the Jean Wilder case in Invermere, BC, people have sent Seniors at Risk stories implicating the Public Guardian & Trustee of abuse of authority and fraud in managing the estates of seniors who they placed under their control, including:
- a PGT staff member was convicted of embezzling millions of dollars of real estate and other assets from seniors for whom the PGT was appointed guardian,
- The Public Guardian & Trustee seized the joint bank accounts of an elderly couple after the husband complained about mistreatment and neglect of his wife by care facility staff, and forced his wife to remain in an institution rather than to be cared for at home with home care, and
- PGT staff “ransacked” the home of an elderly woman who was under the PGT’s legal care, made the last months of her life “miserable”.
‘Trustee’ caught stealing $1.26 million in assets from two seniors
A Public Guardian & Trustee employee, (Bryan Tickell), was sentenced to six years in jail in 2009 after pleading guilty to fraud, breach of trust and forgery in the cases of West Vancouver’s Phyllis Lowdell and North Vancouver’s Boris Derlago, who was defrauded on his death bed.
“The Public Trustee says it has since revamped its hiring practices and internal checks to guard against abuses by predators such as Tickell.
The Hendersons, executors of Lowdell’s estate, aren’t convinced.
Phyllis is lucky because she has the means to survive. She has quite a decent estate and she is leaving it to charity.”
Still, Henderson suggested that Lowdell may have lost more than was revealed by the Public Trustee.
“We are still miffed at whatever happened to all the stocks and bonds and all that stuff we handed over [to the Trustee when Tickell was managing Lowdell’s case],” Ross Henderson said. “Whatever happened to the contents of her home? No one ever gave us answers.” Read More
B.C. man loses right to care for wife
Province takes over after husband refuses to pay for ‘substandard’ hospital care
An elderly B.C. man is upset after a provincial health authority stripped him and his wife of their legal and financial rights when he complained repeatedly about his wife’s care in the local hospital.
“She would have been far better at home,” said George Brent, 83, of his wife’s care at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, B.C. “But, I’m strapped by legalities set forth by government.” …
Brent’s 81-year-old wife, Dolores, was admitted to the hospital in Trail, in southeastern B.C. near the border with Washington, in August 2009 after suffering a heart attack. After she recovered, her husband told hospital staff he wanted to take her back to their home in nearby Montrose. Instead, the hospital moved her into its long-term care wing, saying she was too frail to leave.
“She would ask me every day, ‘When can I get out of here?'” Brent said. “They stated that I wouldn’t be allowed to take her home.” …
Husband complained repeatedly
Brent and one of his daughters, Gwyn, said they were very upset about what they called the “substandard” care Dolores received at the Kootenay hospital. Brent would visit every day, and he and his daughter said they often found Dolores parched, cold, tied to her wheelchair or even sitting in her own waste.
“I told the head nurse, and they said, ‘We are too busy to change her,’ ” Gwyn said. “So, they didn’t change her, and she didn’t eat. How can you eat when you are sitting in your own waste? That’s how it is there.”
Public Guardian steps in
Hospital physicians then assessed Dolores Brent’s deteriorating mental state, and an administrator from the health authority signed a form declaring her incapable of managing her affairs.
The certificate of incapability, as it is known, automatically put B.C.’s Public Guardian and Trustee in charge of her finances instead of her husband even though she had signed an enduring power of attorney appointing George Brent to look after her affairs if she became incapable of doing so herself.
“To get Dolores the support she needs, it is our intention to issue a certificate of incapability,” said a letter from the health authority addressed to George Brent in March. “The Public Guardian and Trustee will plan with Dolores to best meet her financial and legal needs.” …
Gwyn Brent said the health officials’ actions were a direct response to her father’s complaints about her mother’s care at the Kootenay hospital.” … Read More
B.C. public guardian accused of abusing rights
Last months of elderly woman’s life made miserable by agency: friends
When Winifred Hall entered her friend Sheila Scholnick’s home in Vancouver’s west side after she was locked out, the place looked as though there had been a burglary.
“The house had been ransacked,” the elderly B.C. woman told CBC News, her voice shaking.
A Jewish altar lay overturned in the living room of the Dunbar area home, with its candles and Torah lying on the floor. Upstairs in the bedroom, dresser drawers had been emptied and underwear was scattered on the bed.
The culprits: British Columbia’s Public Guardian and Trustee, a provincial agency set up to protect the financial and legal affairs of those declared mentally incapable of handling it themselves. …
Agency won’t explain
“B.C. Public Guardian and Trustee Jay Chalke said ransacking a house would be “ridiculous and unacceptable.” … Our written policy is that our investigators leave the property at least as good as they found it.”
But lawyer John Lakes who has dealt extensively with the public guardian, says poor judgments are sometimes the result of overworked, disengaged caseworkers, as well as the result of a cumbersome bureaucracy. “Well, unfortunately — just like a lawyer — the PGT is trained to be negative,” said Lakes.
“You’re dealing with a big bureaucracy. You’re dealing with a turnover of people. Part of the problem is what they’ll do is take sides too early.”
For about six months before being turfed from the home, Hall had Scholnick’s enduring power of attorney after Scholnick was admitted to a nursing home following a fall in May 2007.
With that enduring power of attorney, she had the ability to act in her friend’s name even when Scholnick lost decision-making capacity, but that right was nullified by the public guardian when it assumed control of the elderly woman’s finances.
In fact, it was Hall who called the public guardian, concerned that Scholnick was being swindled by a man who had begun visiting Scholnick at the nursing home.” … Read More