When Guardianship Goes Awry- Ensuring Compassionate Care for Elders

Establishing Guardianship for an older person who becomes incapacitated mentally and physically is often a challenging, emotional circumstance for relatives. When Mineral Wells, Texas resident Denise Tighe began to experience these issues friends and family took the steps to establish guardianship for her through the court. When it was determined that no friends or family could provide the care she needed an attorney was appointed to protect her assets, and the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) was assigned to protect her personal welfare. Then, according to CBS Investigators, is when things began to unravel for Mrs. Tighe and those who care about her well being.

Formerly a Wall Street bank manager, Mrs. Tighe and her now-deceased husband had amassed an estate of high-end collectibles, jewelry, furnishings, and property- all of which was liquidated by the guardian of her estate. Even her cat, Bobby, was placed in a boarding clinic and then ordered by the attorney-guardian to be euthaniOKzed. Relatives and friends were told that they were no longer permitted to see Mrs. Tighe at her new assisted-living placement without first being on an approved list- the state said that “visitors are screened to protect her privacy and to prevent someone from taking advantage of her”.

Mrs. Tighe’s friends are saddened that their friend was taken from the community and moved to Weatherford, and further by the lack of visitation time permitted with someone they had grown to know and love. Suzanne Foley, sister of Mrs. Tighe, has been told she is no longer allowed to visit at will and was sent a letter stating that any future visits “must be pre-approved, arranged in advance and supervised”.  All who are involved are saddened to lose contact with someone that they love and feel that there has been no compassion or consideration for Mrs. Tighe.

Well-meaning judges and legal advisors often make decisions involving Guardianship for elders that lead to unnecessary or overzealous restrictions. Family members and friends should have the ability to offer support during a transition and the opportunity for continuing interaction after guardianship is established. Contact us if you have questions about court-appointed guardianship or estate planning options.