Probate Killings Part I

The Probate Murders (Part One):
The War on the Vulnerable Through the Courts

by Janet C. Phelan

Barbara Rosen was concerned that her elderly neighbor might need some help.  The two had become acquainted through Quaker meeting and Barbara was aware her friend was alone in the world and increasingly vulnerable.

Barbara offered her assistance, and ended up visiting the woman several times a week.  The neighbor was grateful and for several years, Barbara Rosen paid her neighbor’s bills from the neighbor’s checkbook and exercised some oversight on her affairs. Barbara Rosen did this without charging her neighbor for these services, simply out of the goodness of her heart.

Barbara Rosen was, in fact, her conservator.  And her selfless acts of assisting her neighbor are nearly unparalleled in what has become the business of conservatorship.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines Conservator as “A guardian, protector, or preserver.”  Conservatorships are generally initiated through the courts in this country, in order to provide oversight for the vulnerable elderly or disabled.  The reality behind this process, however, reveals a legally sanctioned “cottage industry” where there is massive fraud and abuse by the very parties pledged to oversee and protect.

About two years ago, an expose hit the front page of the LA. Times Entitled “Guardians for Profit — When a family matter turns into a business,” The four part series delved into the issue of conservatorship, and touched on a number of cases conservators took financial advantage of their elderly and vulnerable charges.

In fact, conservatorship abuse is nation wide, and far surpasses what was disclosed in the L.A. Times articles.  While the Times detailed many circumstances where conservators had mismanaged funds to the detriment of their clients, the articles suggested that the courts were so crammed that appropriate judicial oversight was nearly impossible.

TAB has uncovered a different scenario, with an extensive cast of culpable characters, many of whom are sitting in government offices.

Judges are the roots to judicial corruption and corruption throughout the world

The story of greed and inheritance is an ancient one.  In King Lear, the aging King decides to step down from the throne, and must bequeath his kingdom to his heirs.  His vanity blinds him from realizing who among his daughters is acting out of love and who is avaricious and duplicitous.  And what follows is one of the great tragic dramas of our time, as the love of money devolves into murder and patricide.

It is said that art imitates life.  In the stories that follow, we will see the same themes of love vs. greed and honor vs. thieving and even murder for financial gain.  What separates the stories of modern inheritance from the Lear saga is that the current judicial and legal system in our country is contorting itself to accommodate the criminal element. And this is what makes this a contemporary and moral issue, beyond inheritance and legalistic preoccupations.

The names have been changed in the following, so as to protect the innocent.



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