Press Release of Sharyn Eklund
I have tried to find judicial oversight and accountability of the failed Massachusetts probate Court System, but the Governor fails to appoint sufficient judges; there is a shortage of clerical staff and clerks; and there is no oversight for guardians who violate SJC Rules, fail to do accountings, and abuse and exploit the people who they are designated to protect.
The guardians who violate SJC Rule 1:07, as in the Eklund case, pay themselves without court approval. In the Eklund case, the guardian paid herself every month without said approval until called on her actions approximately two years into the process. The she quickly attempted to paper over what she had done.
The violation of this rule goes to character, ethics, trustworthiness, and veractiy. One who violates these values should not be in a position of fiduciary/conservator.
In the Eklund case, this breach of SJC Rule 1:07, which was not inadvertent as said guardian had declared her intention upon our first meeting in August, 2007, was pointed out to her by a lawyer from K&L Gates; yet this guardian proclaimed and continued to proclaim that said Rule did not apply to her. I dare say that this is a pattern of behavior for this guardian who operated with impunity until 2009. We are not privy to how many similar situations that she may be involved in where Rule 1:07 was violated; however, I believe that this may be the first time that she has been challenged for said violation.
This guardian was able to operate in the shadows and engage in such activity because she refused to turn over needed financial documents for former guardians to complete their accountings; without those accountings filed, she had an excuse not to file her own accountings.
There is no judicial oversight of guardians in Massachusetts or elsewhere in this country, no judicial review of submitted accountings, no judicial mechanism to detect breach of court rules (such as SJC Rule 1:07), to discern over-charges to an estate, to assess egregious guardianship conduct, etc.
When an audit was done of billings for the Eklund case, the auditor found that the legal fees and fiduciary tasks were billed together at the same rate when these items should have been billed separately and fiduciary tasks should have been billed at a lower rate. The auditor also stated that the fees charged were high for an estate that the guardian now valued at $669,000-i.e., the initial calculations showed an hourly rate much higher than $400/hr.. which is clearly excessive in light of the fact tat said guardian claimed she was billing at $400/hr and that her paralegal would do most of the work. There were also charges for harassing conduct towards members of the Eklund family, charges that did not benefit Mrs. Eklund, and excessive payments made to vendors. Such charges should be stricken and refunded.
As a conservator, this guardian refused to repair leaks from around the chimney into the living room, which despoiled the ceiling and wall, and leaks into the dining room, which damaged several walls; and refused to replace an aging roof, leaking gutters, rotted soffits, crumbling brick work, etc. Said guardian proclaimed that there was no water damage even in light of a check issued by the insurance adjuster. Said monies did not go towards repairs. Apparently, because this guardian was so eager to throw Mrs. Eklund into a nursing home and file a Medicaid application, she thought that the house would be claimed by Medicaid as its repayment so why worry about the habitability of Mrs. Eklund’s home.
The Massachusetts Family & Probate Court System has been failing for some time. Now, however, with eleven more judges scheduled to leave this year, the system is near collapse. Lawyers, with whom I have discussed this situation, suggest that one seek arbitration or a private judge. When will an oversight contingency step in and take over this failed court system? No one is providing an answer.
There is no public confidence in such a failed judicial system. Where is the judicial oversight for individuals under guardianship who are/were made wards of the state of Massachusetts, and who are/were exploited by this failed system? The conduct of the state of Massachusetts and that of its probate court system stripped my mother of her constitutional rights and her dignity; such conduct goes beyond being shameful. This conduct is human rights abuse and a crime against humanity.