Who Is Watching Vermont’s Legal Guardians?
From: Seven Days: Vermont’s Independent Voice
By TAYLOR DOBBS
Bruce Thomas and two of his siblings waged a costly court battle for eight years, alleging that their brother Paul abused his legal power as their elderly mother’s court-appointed guardian and bled her holdings of $1.1 million.
Paul paid himself for work that wasn’t necessary or wasn’t done, his siblings alleged in court filings. They said his self-dealing was an obvious conflict of interest. On March 21, Orange County Probate Judge Bernard Lewis effectively removed Paul from control of Miriam Thomas’ finances, though he will continue to act on his mother’s behalf on medical and nonfinancial issues.
Lewis’ order says he will replace Paul with a “neutral third party” who will serve as financial guardian. The order doesn’t accuse Paul of theft, but the judge made it clear that the “sloppy or incomplete” financial records Paul filed for Miriam’s estate made it impossible to figure out what he was doing with her money.
Although Bruce and his two siblings ultimately got what they were asking for, Bruce said their long fight illustrates Vermont’s weak oversight of guardians. He is seeking action by the state legislature to toughen relevant laws.
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