Michigan families speak out about losing loved ones to guardianship. “This is not a system designed to help, this is prison,” said Niki Disner
October 15, 2017 by Lulu
(WXYZ) – For months, the 7 Investigators have been digging into the guardianship system in Metro Detroit. On Thursday night, we showed you how a local woman says that due to a court-appointed guardian, she can’t make any medical or financial decisions for her aging parents.
Several families have also come forward.
“This is not a system designed to help, this is prison,” said Niki Disner. Disner says she was put under guardian and conservatorship for 4 years.
“To be able to know that you can go home – but they can’t – and they’re crying out to you, ‘please take me home with you, please get me out of here,’” said Lisa Bailey, who’s says she hasn’t been able to see her brother in months because he’s under guardianship.
“They took her dignity from her, they took everything from her. She’s completely powerless,” said Peter Klavinger, who’s fighting for his grandmother. Peter says she’s currently in a nursing home, but he hasn’t been allowed by the guardian to his grandmother recently.
“Everybody has the same response, which is – how can this happen in America. It’s so wrong to take away senior citizens’ rights – they need to be protected not exploited,” said Jayne Collins. Collins says she’s been her mom’s primary caregiver ever since Nancy Collins was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009.
“She has 5 children. She did not want to be taken care of by a stranger, any more than absolutely necessary,” said Collins.
The Collins siblings have been bitterly fighting for some time about who should care for their mom – and about who should have access to mom’s money. That in-fighting is what allegedly prompted an attorney to petition the court to get a professional guardian and conservator appointed.
In Michigan, at least 33,478 adults have guardians.
That means a judge has decided those people are legally incapacitated, and the guardian is supposed to make all decisions, including medical decisions. And if they’re also appointed as your conservator, they control your cash.
Collins says, at 84, her mom does have memory issues. But Collins does not believe her mother should be considered incapacitated. And neither does Nancy Collins.
“I don’t like it. It’s my world, I want to be in charge,” said Nancy Collins.
Oakland County Probate Judge Daniel O’Brien appointed a professional guardian and conservator for Nancy Collins: attorney Thomas Brennan Fraser.
Jayne Collins is co-guardian, so she is able to help with Nancy’s health care; but she says she has zero say over Nancy’ finances.