Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Protector or Jailor?

The selection of agents in a durable power of attorney for property management and a medical power of attorney must be done with great care.  If allowed in your jurisdiction, a preselection of guardians should the need arise must also be carefully considered.

Failure to do so, may result in a tragic situation such as the one reported in John MacCormack, Captive of courts in Alamo Heights, San Antonio Express-News, Dec. 5, 2005.  Here is an excerpt from the introduction of this article:

"The Ward" * * * is a wealthy, 85-year-old New Jersey widow who spends her days cloistered with health care workers in an Alamo Heights apartment.

She is never alone or free to leave.

Her phone calls are monitored and visits must be approved by a lawyer. Trips to dinner, even with immediate family members, also must be cleared, and the attendant always comes along.

For nine months, Lillian Glasser has been an unwilling captive and the central figure in a contentious family legal fight over her independence — and her $25 million fortune.

The ongoing battle has cost Glasser her freedom and left her desperate to go home.

"I want to be in New Jersey. I was born there. I lived my life there. I feel happy there," she said in a brief telephone interview last week.

"I've been very strong. But you know how you lose your identity? It's a terrible thing. Please, if you could do anything, get me out of here," she pleaded.

The Glasser case has drawn the ire of New Jersey officials who say Texas courts are overreaching their jurisdiction. With millions already spent on the legal battle, a judicial watchdog group says the case smacks of forum shopping and has become a cash cow for lawyers.

"She's being held hostage. They are not allowing her to come to New Jersey because they fear they will lose jurisdiction," said Lawrence Rosa, a lawyer for New Jersey's Adult Protective Services. "It's an appalling case. She is being psychologically tortured. That's the consensus in New Jersey."

A recent investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, however, found no truth to allegations of abuse and exploitation.

Special thanks to Dayla S. Pepi for bringing this situation to my attention.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2005/12/protector_or_ja.html

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