Letter to the Observer: NM’s guardianship system continues to be in crisis

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Editor:
Despite what the New Mexico Judiciary and the Office of Guardianship for Developmental Disabilities reported to the Interim Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services, the guardianship system in New Mexico continues to be in crisis.

Abusive conservatories continue to occur in New Mexico, sponsored by predatory attorneys and sanctioned by district court judges.

The Guardianship Act, 45-5-101 to 45-5-617, was established in 2012 to protect and preserve the well-being and property of the incapable person. However, this is not what happens in the Land of Enchantment.

Unethical professionals (district court judges, plaintiff attorneys, corporate guardians, GALs and conservators) continue to abuse the system.

The people who control the outcome of the guardianship case are the petitioning attorney and the district court judge.

The judge grants power to the appointed guardian and conservator, who control all aspects of the life of the “protected person”, such as where the person lives, what medications are prescribed and taken, which doctors the person can see , who can consult and talk to the individual and, of course, their money and assets!

Additionally, New Mexico courts have ignored legitimate written directives, wills and trusts that have been prepared.

For true guardianship reform to occur, judges must appoint guardians and conservators who understand, respect and promote the wishes and best interests of the “protected person”.

This is exactly why family members and guardianship advocacy groups need to be recognized as the experts when it comes to hearing and understanding our loved ones.

Family members should also have an “equal voice” at the decision-making table. We are “the eyes and ears on the ground”.

We have the daily experiences with our loved ones. We know the individual, their likes, dislikes, triggers, medical history, hopes and dreams.

A corporate tutor and curator are complete strangers who are involved strictly for profit.

Our heads of state (New Mexico legislators, New Mexico cabinet secretaries, our New Mexico attorney general, and our New Mexico governor) must address these injustices to ensure that human rights, the civil rights and financial assets of our most vulnerable population are respected and protected.

The media must continue to report on these concerns!

The public has the right to know!

David Heeter, Lorraine Mendiola and Jorja Armijo-Brasher
Informal Coalition for Family Guardianship and Guardianship of New Mexico

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