When we were first contacted by the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, they let us know that it was just an informal hearing, that we didn’t need a lawyer. Don’t believe it. This is the first step to Adult Guardianship, a filthy legal contrivance it seems one never escapes from.
They said we had a choice, we could use and pay for PGT services, or we could look after our father’s money ourselves.
I had been Dad’s POA (power of attorney) for several years by then and found the job exhausting because he is financially illiterate (he had never managed money himself) but he liked to have his finances explained to him. As a result of having been prescribed benzodiazepines for 5 years, Dad no longer had the ability to form new memories, making my job very difficult.
I paid bills, prepared financial summaries and reviewed his bank statement with him every quarter, explaining each item line by line. If the conversation drifted off for a while he would completely forget what we had just done and ask – “what’s going on with my bank statement?” – and I would start all over again, line by line.
I am a professional accountant with over 60 clients and Dad was by far my most difficult account. The PGT’s offer to take this job on was very appealing even though the cost was high. I was told to review the PGT’s website and phone the office if I had any questions, which I did.
First the Bait
I dialed the 1-800 number listed on the website and spoke to a woman called Maya. My concern was that Dad’s money would be put at risk in the stock market if the PGT handled his affairs. Maya assured me that if the family wanted, his money could be left in his Credit Union earning reliable but unspectacular interest, insured against loss – but only the PGT would have access to the account. I was told we would receive quarterly statements from the PGT, that we would have some say over how his money was handled although they would pay the bills.
I presented this information to my dad along with the costs of PGT management. We decided we would hire
them for a couple of years to give me a break just until the house was sold and emptied. I calculated it would cost about $12,000 for this service. Dad agreed, although the cost floored this otherwise thrifty man.
Then… the Switch
I continued to pay Dad’s bills until he went into the seniors residence attached to the local hospital in September 2010. As soon as he was there, we realized our mistake. On my first visit, he asked if I could take him to his home so he could check that all was well. He had been rushed out of his home with little notice, allowed only a small suitcase of his possessions much like a refugee. His keys had been taken from him so I asked for them at the residence reception desk. Seemed a simple enough request.
But they refused to give him (or me) access to his keys. He was not allowed to return to his house – ever. The minute he moved out, the locks were changed on the house, the mailbox removed and he never saw any of his possessions again. His money was moved from his insured Credit Union account and invested in the stock market. The PGT was now in control. All of this had been done by the PGT in conjunction with the hospital and the health authority, without me (or Dad) even being told about it.
The hospital indicated this was necessary to protect him from me, hinting that I might be planning to raid his priceless possessions by asking for his keys. I had been in and out of Dad’s house daily for at least 5 years and could have robbed him blind if I’d wanted to, but I guess the nurse didn’t know that and never bothered to find out.
Within days, I found out that Dad’s stepdaughter had moved into Dad’s house and began driving Dad’s car. I don’t know what became of Dad’s furniture, his books, his private papers — all gone. Soon she was spending her mother’s money (and Dad’s) on renovations such as upgrading the plumbing and replacing perfectly functioning appliances with stainless steel versions.
I spent $2000 on a lawyer to learn that Dad’s step-daughter bought the house for less than market value, and that renovations she requested were approved by the PGT to be paid out of Dad’s account. Again, this was all done without informing me or Dad.
I am told that quarterly PGT reports are being sent to the hospital but they have never been shown to my Dad or his family. Financial information is given to the hospital social worker and Dad’s doctor now. I have medical records that show Dr. MD announcing Dad’s net worth in a staff meeting. How this knowledge helps them to make medical decisions, I don’t know. I do find it odd though that personal financial information can be so freely shared with hospital staff, when his own daughter is denied all information.
“Maya works in the front office, she doesn’t speak for us”
My father has been thrifty all his life, saving up for his retirement. Now that it’s here, he has no access to his money. When we take him out for a drive, he always offers to buy the treats but I know he has not seen one penny of his money since September 2010 and he never will. I tell him – “you can buy next time” and he smiles, happy to know he’s paying his way.
I complained to the PGT administrator of Dad’s finances. I told her what Maya said. She replied – “Maya worked in the front office. She doesn’t speak for us.” How was I supposed to know that? And why would it make any difference what part of the office she worked in, she still worked for the PGT, didn’t she?
But that is the important part of the bait and switch game being played by the PGT. Don’t let your victim know what you are really planning, never document anything that could be used as evidence. Instead, just speak in reassuring terms to your victim(s), until you’ve got control of their lives.
And Maya doesn’t work there anymore anyway.
Knowledge. Compassion. Courage. Action.
Take a stand against institutional elder abuse.