Court Documents and Case Evidence.
NASGA has gained exclusive access to court documents and evidence collected by the research team for the August 23, 2019 expose of Michigan’s Oakland County Probate Court, The Fortress.
They are uploaded here.
Each of the documents has been redacted from identifying information and any sensitive medical records and includes a brief summary and commentary to help readers navigate through them.
We welcome our members to submit their own court documents and case-evidence for upload to the website.
This will not only help visitors gain a clear understanding of the way a judge and appointed guardian has functioned in your case but will be a real advantage to journalists and media outlets seeking cases or a particular case to cover.
Court documents can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a brief summary of your case. If the documents are too large for emails, Gretchen will talk you through uploading them to a Google Drive.
In order to protect family members/friends submitting the documents from any retaliatory court action and to respect the protected individual’s privacy, it is imperative that all records are thoroughly redacted before you submit them
This means that you must black-out any and all:
Addresses (city and state can stay in).
Phone numbers (personal or the number of a nursing facility)
Social security numbers.
Bank account numbers and account balances
If you have any questions concerning what should be removed, NASGA will respond to them promptly.
You can redact your documents using a PDF editor or a thick, black magic marker before scanning the documents to your computer and emailing them over. Make sure there are no other documents under the page you are marking.
NASGA will verify that necessary information has been redacted before uploading them to the website. All documents sent to NASGA are done so in complete confidentiality. Only those that members are comfortable sharing will be uploaded following a redaction review.
Share Your Story.
NASGA has opened up its YouTube channel for members to share videos of their own stories. Each video will be highlighted both on the website and social media and will also be accessible to the media.
If you are using an iPhone or Android device to record your story, please be sure to keep it horizontal rather than vertical (preferred by media outlets) and avoid shaking the camera. This can be achieved with a stand or by placing the camera against on and against a hard surface elevated to face level. Use the zoom feature to go back and forth rather than physically moving the camera.
Please keep your videos under 15 minutes in length and remember to keep it simple. You can tell the story yourselves, through an interview with your loved one or a combination. Try to stick to the following elements:
How the guardianship occurred and to whom (first names only).
City and State the guardianship is in.
Events which took/have taken place during the guardianship.
Current status of the case.
Do not submit recordings of court procedures taken without the express permission of your probate/family court. Similarly, do not submit recordings inside nursing facilities which show any identifying information or the address of the facility or the faces of any employees.
Once your video is completed, email email@example.com and she will help you upload it to Google Drive.
NASGA will review all submissions before inclusion on the channel.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has laid bare a great many injustices in the United States. None more so than the tragedy that is taking place in America’s nursing homes, assisted living and long term care facilities.
Families with loved ones in long term care in every city and every state in the country have reported that nursing home administrators have not been forthcoming about infection rates of both staff and residents. While a significant majority of these homes had infection control issues prior to the onset of the pandemic, families have reported that there has sometimes been little, if any, information provided as to whether proper infection procedures are now being followed, whether staff are properly equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and what, if any, measures have been taken when a staff member or resident has tested positive for COVID-19.
Even with a federal mandate, states like Arizona are still pushing back on releasing the names of long term care facilities that have had an outbreak or deaths due to coronavirus infections. Families still have to rely on local media outlets for those numbers.
More concerning still is that fact that both for profit and nonprofit long term care lobbying groups have been successful in 15 states, including New York, Michigan and Illinois, in convincing governors to enact liability protections during the pandemic. These protections make it extremely difficult to take legal action against a long term care facility after the death of a loved one from COVID-19. In Michigan and New York, governors have received push back for essentially forcing nursing homes to take coronavirus patients (the New York governor recently reversed that decision).
With families and even local ombudsmen unable to visit facilities to ensure that residents are being protected, families have little or no recourse or access to any information that long term care administrators and state departments of health do not wish to provide.
While, in those states with stay-at home orders, probate and family courts nationwide have ceased regular operations during the pandemic, the majority remained open for emergency petitions for guardianship/conservatorship. The problem is that a number of these courts have been using online or tele-meetings to conduct hearings. For a vulnerable individual or those with limited communication access, attendance at such hearings is difficult. Individuals who are unable to attend a hearing remotely risk being assigned a temporary guardian/conservator. As we know, once in the system it is extremely difficult to get out.
Since court-appointed guardians have almost routinely removed vulnerable individuals from their homes and placed them in long term care, another urgent question is whether that is still happening during emergency guardianships and whether guardians have fully vetted a facility to ensure that no coronavirus outbreaks have been found there, that it is properly staffed and that staff is equipped with PPE.
With a lack of or reliable information coming out of probate/family courts as to how many individuals have been placed in temporary/emergency guardianships coupled with still unreliable information about the country’s long term care facilties, the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse (NASGA) has partnered with ProbateWatch in appealing to families nationwide to take a five-minute survey on guardianship and long term care during the pandemic.
If you already had a loved one in guardianship/conservatorship, if one has been imposed by a probate/family court since January 2020 or if you just have a loved one in long term care and are concerned for their safety, we want to hear from you.
This survey will give us an essential and complete picture of what is happening behind the closed doors of both courts and long term care facilities and allow us to demand accountability from state health departments, legislators and judicial branches if necessary.
Please help us help you, your loves ones and families across the country by taking the survey by clicking HERE!
All answers will be treated in the strictest confidence and information provided will not be released to any agency outside of NASGA or ProbateWatch. In the case of media inquiries, we will contact families and ask them if they are interested in speaking on or off the record concerning their experiences while ensuring complete anonymity if requested.
Take Our Full Comprehensive Guardianship Survey.
You are also invited to take part in our full guardianship survey. Developed by ProbateWatch, it is the most comprehensive survey on guardianships and conservatorships in the United States.
The lack of data regarding the number of guardianships in the US has been a concern for both advocates and lawmakers. Indeed, the numbers to which most refer are almost a decade old.
This new survey will not only help us gain a substantive illustration in terms of the numbers of people under guardianships/conservatorships on a state-by-state basis but invaluable information concerning the length of time a guardian has been in place, how petitions were filed, whether estate planning documents (such as a Durable Power of Attorney) were in place and whether abuse/financial exploitation has been found since the guardianship/conservatorship was initiated.
Once we have enough respondents, NASGA intends to generate a report based on the data submitted which will be released to both the media as well as state and federal lawmakers.
It only takes about 20 minutes to complete. Once again, all answers to the survey be held in the strictest of confidence.
THE FULL GUARDIANSHIP SURVEY CAN BE FOUND BY CLICKING HERE
Please reach out to us if you have any questions by email or phone.