Valuation ordered in Roscommon conservatorship case | New


ROSCOMMON — A probate court judge has ordered a new medical evaluation for a woman whose family is seeking termination of her status as a ward of court, after unexplained expenses by a former guardian prompted the sale of the house of the wife and forced her to move into a long-term care facility.

“Kay, take care and keep improving,” County Roscommon Probate Court Judge Mark D. Jernigan told 82-year-old Kay McGinnis at the close of a petition hearing on 8 august.

Unguarded is a Traverse City Record-Eagle special project that, after nine months of reporting from courthouses across Michigan, prov…

The petition, filed by one of McGinnis’ sisters, Loreli Haddad, 83, also from Roscommon, sought to have McGinnis’ current guardian and curator removed and to ask the judge to end the guardianship altogether or appoint McGinnis as his own tutor.

“I don’t understand what their criteria are, for someone to remain under state guardianship,” Haddad said. “Once you get one of these guardians, even if your health improves, it’s like you never escape.”

If all court appointments for McGinnis are terminated, no further probate court contact will be necessary. If McGinnis is allowed to be her own guardian, annual reports on housing, medical services, income and expenses would still be required, but McGinnis would submit these reports herself.

St. Helen’s Sheila Englehardt will continue as McGinnis’ guardian and curator for now, pending the outcome of the new medical, the judge said.

The judge appointed psychologist Eric R. Harvey, who was in the courtroom preparing to testify on another case, to lead McGinnis’ reassessment.

“We’ll set a time and I’ll come to you,” Harvey told McGinnis after the hearing. “And you can have whoever you want with you.”

The judge’s decision and Harvey’s approachable manner seemed to satisfy McGinnis’ many family members and longtime friends, who attended the hearing to support McGinnis’ ability to care for herself and to make their own decisions.

“Finally, maybe some good news,” said Peggy Olsen, 87, McGinnis’ older sister.

McGinnis has had four court-appointed guardians since he suffered a stroke in 2016, court records show.

She and her family say the initial appointment of McGinnis’ longtime partner John Kutz as guardian was justified, as McGinnis was temporarily unable to care for herself or manage her affairs.

When Kutz died of liver cancer in 2019, however, a series of new court-appointed guardians and conservators succeeded Kutz, even after McGinnis and her sisters said McGinnis had recovered enough to take her own decisions.

One such babysitter, Mary “Minnie” Lovely, of Grayling, was investigated by Michigan State Police and later charged with embezzlement, after being charged with spending about $9,000 of McGinnis’ money on cell phones, lottery tickets and casino games.

Mortgage payments on McGinnis’ home on Stuckey Avenue were not made during this time, according to court records, and the house was foreclosed.

A warrant for Lovely’s arrest has been issued after she failed to show a court date earlier this year. Calls to a cell phone number listed in court documents were not returned.

Englehardt was named to replace Lovely, although the family says that appointment was also problematic.

Englehardt received court approval to sell McGinnis’ home on Stuckey Avenue to protect McGinnis’ equity, but she did not provide the family with details of proceeds and expenses, they said.

“She helped find out Minnie’s expenses,” Haddad said, “and I think she invested the house money, but when we asked her for a debrief, she told us she didn’t. I only had to provide it to the court once a year.”

Michigan law states that court-appointed guardians and conservators are required to submit annual reports to probate court, with guardians reporting on housing and medical issues of those they are appointed to serve, and conservators reporting income and expenses.

People listed in the court case as “interested parties” must receive copies of these annual reports, the law states, and can object to anything they find suspicious, incomplete or inaccurate.

Englehardt did not attend the hearing after submitting a letter to McGinnis’ court-appointed attorney Michael Edwards saying she was unavailable.

Calls to Englehardt seeking comment went unanswered, and a recording said his voicemail was full and unable to receive messages.

Englehardt’s letter and a previous medical evaluation by a Grayling doctor consisting of a single word – “Dementia”. — didn’t sit well with either Judge Jernigan or McGinnis’ family.

Haddad said it’s McGinnis’ speech, not his intellectual ability, that bears the effects of the stroke, and that speech difficulties alone shouldn’t stop someone from having autonomy over his own life.

The judge decided he wanted more information on this issue, before deciding whether to grant Haddad’s motion.

“I don’t know if you have dementia,” Jernigan told McGinnis. “I’m not convinced one way or the other that you still need a tutor or a curator. Do you feel able to make your own decisions? »

“Please, please, yes, your honor,” McGinnis said.

A new hearing will be scheduled once McGinnis has been assessed by Harvey, the judge said.


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