Elderly Conservatee Rights Violation

A recent article in the Examiner alleges that Scott Phipps of Phisco Fiduciary committed elder abuse against a senior conservatee, Elinor Frerichs.  Elder advocates argue that Scott Phipps kept Frerichs “confined and isolated” at Lakeside Park, her asfile0001748266226sisted living facility in Oakland.  If true, the fiduciary may have violated the rights provided to conservatees in the state of California.

Conservatee’s Rights in California

According to the Notice of Conservatee’s Rights, our state makes clear that, when an elderly person becomes a conservatee, they do not lose all rights to handle decisions.  Indeed, “he or she does not necessarily lose the right to take part in important decisions affecting his or her property and way of life.”  The conservatee is entitled to “ask questions and to express concerns and complaints about the conservatorship and the actions of his or her conservator.”

The conservatee retains the following rights after a conservator is appointed:

  •      Right to be represented by a lawyer;
  •      Right to ask a judge to replace the conservator;
  •      Right to ask a judge to end the conservatorship;
  •      Right to make a will or change a will;
  •      Right to directly receive and control his or her salary; and
  •      Right to control an allowance (defined as “personal spending money” authorized by the court).

Elder Advocates Allege Fiduciary Committed Elder Abuse

According to the article, Elinor Frerichs was denied the right to see visitors, or even to maintain any contact with the outside world.  Scott Phipps, a Professional Fiduciary through the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (PFB), denied Frerichs access to visitation, phone calls, or personal mail—all of which are guaranteed by Assembly Bill 937 (2013).  Assembly Bill 937 amended the California Probate Code to “clarify that conservatees have the right to visitation, phone calls, and personal mail.”  The Notice of Conservatee’s Rights already emphasizes that conservatees have the right to see visitors.

On September 12, Phipps asked a judge to “[t]ake away Elinor’s right to visitation.”  Frerichs previously stated she wanted to attend her hearing to ask the judge to replace her conservator because she no longer wanted Phipps as her conservator.  However, Phipps did not permit Frerichs to attend her hearing (as she is permitted to do by the Notice of Conservatee’s Rights), and thus “failed to represent Elinor’s wishes to the judge.”  Based on Phipp’s presentation to the court, “the judge limited Elinor’s visitation rights going forward.”

On September 15, Elaine Renoire, President of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA), phoned Lakeside Park and requested to speak with Frerichs, but Lakeside Park would not allow Frerichs to receive the phone call.  Other elder advocates expressed serious concern about Scott Phipps and the role of conservators, as well as the possible role that Lakeside Park played in permitting elder abuse.

If your elderly loved one has been mistreated in a nursing home or assisted living facility, do not wait to contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.  At the Walton Law Firm, our elder abuse lawyers can discuss your case with you today.  Contact us to learn more.

Photo Credit: sante1 via morgueFile

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