March 31, 2023

Federal bill would change ‘devastating’ guardianship system that affects senior living residents, families

McKnights Senior Living

Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging on Thursday heard the case of an assisted living resident whose guardian reportedly withheld almost $100,000 from the facility and her caregivers despite, according to her daughter, “more than adequate funds available.”

That daughter is Tina Paone, PhD, a university professor and a licensed professional counselor who was a witness at a committee hearing titled “Guardianship and Alternatives: Protection and Empowerment.” Her testimony came as the committee’s leader introduced a new bill aimed at improving the guardianship system.

Paone said her mother’s guardian failed to pay long-term care bills “more than half the time,” but such nonpayment was only one negative part of her family’s experience with the guardianship system, which began in 2015 when her mother had a stroke. Over the next few years, Paone said, she saw guardianship responsibilities taken away from her and her brother and given to someone who admitted having no experience working with large estates; her mother being subjected to an expensive, unnecessary evaluation that was charged to her estate; her mother’s second-largest asset, her home, not being protected; and the selling of her mother’s business, “eliminating half of the monthly income she relied on for her care,” among other issues.

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