Disabled mother at crux of probate dispute - Greenwich Time

Full story: Greenwich Time

Officials from the Office of the Probate Court Administrator spent Friday combing through files in Town Hall after increased media scrutiny highlighted the case of Marilyn Plank, an 85-year-old woman whose move ...

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Justice for Marilyn

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Outragous comment from Grayson "And she ended up there in her own free will". Shocking an attorney would lie like this when the record shows otherwise.

Where is the reporting from the court records that Marilyn Plank testified herself, in front of the Judge and attorneys, including Grayson, that she did not want to be held in Connecticut and she very much wants to return to her home state of Michigan, where she has been a resident all of her life.

There is also the court records from Marilyn's own attorney who states that Marilyn has been consisent, and very clear, ever since her being taken and put in Connecticut that it is her wishes to return to her home state of Michigan.

The court record also shows tesitmony from her doctor that on a scale of 1-10 for dementia, she is at a 1-2 with 10 being the worst. So Marilyn is still quite capable of expressing her wishes and is quite aware she is being held against her wishes in a place and a state that she does not wish to be, and place she never asked to be, she wants very desperatly to go home to her community in state of Michigan.
Friend of Marilyn

Birmingham, MI

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Thanks for this article. Two years ago Marilyn Plank went to visit her grandson in California. Instead of returning to her home in Michigan, daughters Lin Higgins and Christine Rales flew her via private jet to her estate in Washington DC, where she was held for 8 months, and cut off all communication between Plank and me and her concerned family , friends and clergy. If there was any truth in claims that this was for medical reasons, there would certainly be medical reports and a medical bill trail. Investigate and you will find none. The Rales and Higgins team then flew their Mother via private jet into White Plains Airport, taking her directly to the Greens at Greenwich,on May 16th 2007. The mother was told by Higgins that she was taking her to a hotel. Unbeknowst to Marilyn's friends and family, within days, Lin Higgins stated that her mother was a domicile of Connecticut on an emergency application for conservatorship, and Judge David Hopper declared Marilyn Plank a ward of the state.
READ Rick Green Article

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Connecticut's probate court outrages will continue until probate is changed
By Rick Green on November 15, 2008 1:00 AM | Permalink
This week, I wrote about the latest probate outrage, the story of 85-year-old Marilyn Plank, trapped in Connecticut and blocked from returning home because a Greenwich probate judge deemed the Michigan woman incapable of caring for herself anymore.
Plank comes on the heels of Margot Claus, a German woman earlier this year, and after the previous cases of Maydelle Trambarulo of New Jersey and Dan Gross, the Long Island man held against his will in Waterbury until a superior court judge freed him in a dramatic court hearing where he excoriated the probate court.
Not much changes, except the venue.
These are complicated cases, with bickering families and elderly victims, who are not legal residents of Connecticut. They have been illegally detained by probate courts that lack jurisdiction and ability to effectively investigate before revoking an old person's civil rights.
Despite the endless promises to reform -- and the specious argument that these outrages are merely isolated incidents blown out of proportion by a newspaper columnist -- these cases are not going away.
READ Rick Green Article

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Probate Court Administrator will review a controversial Greenwich case
By Rick Green on November 13, 2008 2:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Court Administrator Paul Knierim said Thursday he will investigate a controversial Greenwich probate case where family members say Marilyn Plank, an elderly Michigan woman, has been held against her will in Connecticut.

On Tuesday, I wrote about this court-sanctioned kidnapping as the latest example of a probate system still in need of reform. Plank is a resident of Michigan, not Connecticut.

Knierim told me the law requires the courts to pay specific attention to the rights of a person who faces conservation by probate court, particularly when it comes to jurisdiction. People under conservatorship lose virtually all of their civil rights.

Plank, 85, was brought to Connecticut from Michigan under questionable circumstances in May of 2007 by one of her daughters. Plank's court-appointed conservator, and other family members, have challenged Greenwich Probate Judge David Hopper's decision to approve her move here, even though she was not a resident of Connecticut.

Plank has repeatedly told her conservator that she wants to return to Michigan, her home of nearly 50 years. Hopper has not ruled on a request made eight months ago to allow the elderly Plank to return home.

"I've spoken with Judge Hopper,'' Knierim said. "He has invited me and it is an invitation that I accept. He'd like my office to review the file with an eye toward insuring from an administrative standpoint that the case has been handled properly,''

"I don't expect it to take that long,'' said Knierim, who said that one of his lawyers would be visiting the Greenwich court tomorrow.

"If the circumstances indicated the court had not followed the statutory framework, then I would make a recommendation on it. I am not going to second guess the judicial decision."
READ Rick Green _Key

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Another Connecticut Probate Victim
Rick Green
I bring you another story about a probate-court kidnapping, another warning of the injustice unfolding in this dangerous, antiquated judicial system.
The tale of 85-year-old Marilyn Plank is a chilling example of why the renegade probate courts must be reined in.
Plank, a mentally and physically fragile woman and lifelong resident of Michigan, was stealthily moved to Greenwich by two of her daughters via private jet in May 2007. She was not a resident of the state of Connecticut.
She does not want to be here.
But with the assistance of some slick lawyering, daughter Linda Higgins took control of her mother's assets. Along with another sister, she brought her mother to Greenwich, unbeknownst to three other sisters living elsewhere. One of seven children fighting over control of the family's 1,600-acre ranch in Michigan, Higgins moved the elderly Plank to an assisted living facility in Greenwich. Just days before, she signed a lease in Plank's name.
Plank, court documents say, was told she was going to a hotel. She had left her home in Michigan thinking she would visit a grandchild in California for a few days.
Within days of her arrival in May 2007, Greenwich Probate Judge David Hopper appointed Linda Higgins as temporary "conservator of the person" for her mother, based on the fact that there was a lease with Plank's name on it. That means Plank lost her civil rights.
"The statute is absolutely clear," Superior Court Judge Joseph T. Gormley Jr. stated in 2006 in the infamous case of Daniel Gross, another victim of probate-sanctioned kidnapping. "You can't appoint a conservator of someone's person unless that person is domiciled in the state of Connecticut or resides in the state of Connecticut."
Hopper has had numerous chances to correct the mistake of May 2007. For the last eight months, even the plea of a permanent conservator appointed in July 2007 has gone unanswered.
"The evidence overwhelmingly supports her wishes. She has friends [in Michigan] that came to probate court and talked of Mrs. Plank's extensive involvement in her community."
"Even through her dementia, Mrs. Plank is consistent in her statements about returning to Michigan," Margenot wrote earlier this year. "A conservator must listen to the wishes of the conserved individual."
"Not only does the evidence support a return to Michigan, it is in her best interest that she do so."
Meanwhile, Plank's expensive care in Connecticut about $9,000 per month at the Greenwich facility and the fees of numerous lawyers working at $300 and $400 an hour have steadily depleted her estate. Margenot has concluded that "every day spent in Connecticut puts Mrs. Plank deeper into financial chaos."
For a time, the three sisters fighting to move Plank back to Michigan hired state Sen. Andrew McDonald as their lawyer, until they ran out of money. McDonald has been at the forefront of probate reform efforts in the legislature, where he co-chairs the judiciary committee.
"There is no question but that this court lacks jurisdiction over Mrs. Plank, a citizen, domiciliary and resident of Michigan," McDonald wrote in a brief filed in July 2007. Plank "has repeatedly expressed to various persons" including her aide, lawyer, pastor and friends that she wants to go home.
Plank, McDonald concluded, "was brought here without her consent, admitted to a nursing home under the guise that it was a hotel, and has essentially been incarcerated in a locked facility."
Maybe Hopper will reconsider. Perhaps Judge Paul Knierim, the new administrator of the unwieldy 117-court probate system, will tackle this rogue judiciary.
In the meantime, remember that Marilyn Plank is not an exception. She is a symptom of a sick court system that unblinkingly sanctions and enables the kidnapping of the elderly and infirm.
Advocate for Elder Abuse

West Hollywood, CA

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Pat Carpenter, Marilyn Plank's GREENWICH PROBATE COURT APPOINTED attorney, and Charlie Pertiese, Marilyn Plank's GREENWICH PROBATE COURT APPOINTED GAL along with Richard Margenot, Marilyn Plank's GREENWICH PROBATE COURT APPOINTED CONSERVATOR have submitted in their final briefs to Judge Hopper that Marilyn should be allowed to return to the state of Michigan where she has been a resident her entire life.
Another friend of Marilyn

Birmingham, MI

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The comment, "The best thing for Mrs. Plank was to end up exactly where she ended up" by Real Estate Attorney Eric Grayson of Greenwich, Connecticut is outrageous and laughable at best. What he meant to say is, the best thing for ME is for Mrs. Plank to end up exactly where she ended up. Attorney Grayson has been compensated over $100,000.00 in legal fees representing Lin Higgins, first as attorney for the Temporary Conservator of Marilyn Plank, and when she lost that position, now as Attorney for the Trustee of the Marilyn Plank Revocable Trust and the Marilyn Plank Irrevocable Trust, who again happens to be none other than Lin Higgins. Where is the money coming from? Higgins is using her mother's money to pay her personal legal fees! Of course Grayson loves Higgins crusade to keep her Mother in Connecticut and control her Mother's estate. He's in the MONEY! Does anyone smell something rotten?
Someone who knows

Providence, RI

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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I am Marilyn Plank's granddaughter who grew up with her for 11 years in her house. She had a great art influence on me, and now I'm in art school. I drove her around once I got my license to doctors appointments, hair appointments, and errands. The last few years I was at home, Grammy (Marilyn Plank) started becoming less mobile so we had a chair lift put in, and a new shower seat and bars in the bathroom (installed by her son-in-law). Grammy also had a helper who came a couple times a week.

A couple weeks after I left for my freshman year of school, Grammy went to visit my cousin at Stanford. I did not talk to her for 9 months because she was in Linda Higgins and Christine Rales who refuse to let her talk to anyone in her family and trapped her in a garage apartment and wouldn't let her speak to anyone in the family. Then finally we found out she was in a nursing home and that Linda Higgins had taken all her money. Linda is still making money off of Grammy to pay for her court bills/new house. Grammy was my second mother and I was afraid that sometime terrible was happening to her since I was refused to talk to her by Christine Rales.

I first saw my Grandma when I moved to Providence a year later. I was heart broken and shocked how Christine Rales and Linda Higgins had treated Grammy and how much she had changed through being taken out of her comfortable home environment with her friends and family. The only thing I want is for her to go home so she can have her favorite meals of venison and fish from her family cottage and see her friends at church. It makes me angry and extremely sad how two of my once "aunts" could be so money hungry and selfish. I think they both need to be put on the stand and have some medical evaluation because they are the two most uncompassionate people I've ever met and I'm embarrassed to be related to them.
Free from Corrupticut

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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Anyone who naively believes the statements by Attorney Grayson should have their head examined. Of course this is a conflict of interest, as are most probate court cases, where attorneys are paid by the ward's estate. This case stinks to high heaven, and unfortunately it is not the only situation where the same thing has happened.

Judge David Hopper has other cases before him also in need of the media spotlight, in particular that of Mary Doran, a CT resident who was taken to FL against her wishes. It seems that this is the only
way to get the kings of probate to act, by shining the light of public opinion on them.

To be continued...
Helen

Greeley, CO

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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The media is providing a great service by exposing these cases. They exist across this nation and only family members that have suffered can realize the pain and expense.

You can choose to ignore the noble writings of people such as R Green or family members, but when it hits home, don't be surprised. The elderly in this country have little intrinsic value besides their bank accounts.

A mentally disabled veteran (WWII) was preyed upon by an attorney and a large bank & trust to write a living trust. However, it was predatory. It named residual heirs but if distribution was not timely,(the bank & trust was in charge of distribution) the bank & trust would make all decisions. It named a non=existent person as an heir. It did not allow accountings to immediate family members, those would object. It allowed unlimited billing for bankers, attorneys, and family members with no accountability. Immediate family were not to receive accountings or know of the trust.

No ONE is interested in investigating. Corruption is thick where assets exist. The object of the trust did not receive one dime for her care, no does Illinois recognize the need for the spousal allowance. The ward was issued an illegal DNR, given an anti-psychotic and the right to refuse to eat. You can guess the end.

The ward's funds paid for this "protection" and murder when she was normally eating breakfast out daily. Her fears of sexual abuse due to threats were recorded as mental aberrations. When she finally entered emergency room for rehydration the records reflect a pubic area wound which was not investigated.?????

This is PROTECTION?

Meanwhile, realize that her funds paid for this protection. And the ultimate insult is that someone stole the grass skirt the veteran sent home from Tarawa for Annie. That is protection, in 2008. It is a business, and it is profitable.

It was my husband, an only child, who fondly remembers seeing the grass skirt in the hope chest upstairs for a half-century while it quickly disappeared under the financial guardian. Despite laws to protect the elders, it doesn't happen. Pro bono agencies consist of attorneys who work quickly to plunder.

How do these people sleep at night?
M T-Viola

Miami, FL

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#11
Nov 15, 2008
 
P.S. I just submitted a comment on this article,( RE; My mother in Miami, Florida) but forgot to mention that I am a member of the National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse. Please log on and see what is going on around the country.
Wale Up Greenwich

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Nov 15, 2008
 

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As a most viewed story in Greenwich, it's dissapointing that there has not been more local repsonse or caring about what is happening in their own back yard. Is this symptomatic of the entire Greenwich system?
Seymour CT

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Nov 16, 2008
 

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It's happening all over. I belong to the National Association to stop Guardian Abuse.
Our personal case has been before Judge Davis Hopper for 3 yrs now.
We have been filing for hearings for the retun of our mother Mary Doran back to Connecticut. Mom was taken to Florida against her wishes. She asks to come home often. She doesn't want to be in Florida away from her other 3 siblings.
Seymour CT

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Our mother (Mary Doran)was taken from Greenwich Woods Nursing against medical advice by the Conservator in February 2006
It took almost 3 weeks to find her with the help of the GPD.
A petition was personally filed the following day requesting an emergency hearing by our John Florek attorney of Stratford.
Judge Hopper heard our emergency hearing a month later in March.
Something is very wrong with this picture.
Someone who knows

Providence, RI

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Nov 16, 2008
 

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Seymour CT wrote:
Our mother (Mary Doran)was taken from Greenwich Woods Nursing against medical advice by the Conservator in February 2006
It took almost 3 weeks to find her with the help of the GPD.
A petition was personally filed the following day requesting an emergency hearing by our John Florek attorney of Stratford.
Judge Hopper heard our emergency hearing a month later in March.
Something is very wrong with this picture.
The longer he takes to come down with a decision, the more money he makes. I think the state of Connecticut should be cut off from the rest of the Unites States because for decades they've refused to modernize.
Justice for Marilyn

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Nov 16, 2008
 

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The story of Mary Doran is another trajic case, like Marilyn Plank's, that Hopper has handled, or mishandled. Three years and still pending is unbelievable.

In Marilyn's case, after 9 months of hearings, Hopper said no further hearings and he would have his decision in April 2008. That statement was recorded in the court tapes.

So what happened? Another hearing was held, and then at the end of that hearing, Higgins was offered another chance for a hearing in September. After that hearing, there was the statement to make a ruling shortly and now, two months later, nothing. And who's footing the bill for all these attorneys to gather again and again at Greenwich probate? Marilyn Plank.

If Marilyn was sent back to Michigan, where she wants to be, after the first hearing requested by the Conservator, she would be well over $400,000 richer today. Now all her funds have been depleted, she has nothing. And "daughter" Higgins who put her in this situation has not offered to pay one penny. Instead, Higgins signed herself as trustee of Marilyn's trust and controls it all. None has been given to Marilyn, not even to pay her living expenses in CT. That has been paid by depleting the equity of Marilyn's Michigan home, which now will most likely be lost to the bank. All Higgins own legal expenses(represented by Grayson), to fight her own mother Marilyn's wishes to return to Michigan, have been paid out of Marilyn's estate. Disgusting.
sheepdog

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#17
Nov 16, 2008
 
Wale Up Greenwich wrote:
As a most viewed story in Greenwich, it's dissapointing that there has not been more local repsonse or caring about what is happening in their own back yard. Is this symptomatic of the entire Greenwich system?
I can only speculate. "As a most viewed story," do you mean it's been viewed on local TV? If so, main stream news media gives very little. Has it been covered in the local paper much?
Just a thought, because I noticed that some newspapers in certain towns/cities are protective, and reluctant to print stories, even sensational stories about certain people or certain professions in their cities, which cover certain districts. Newspapers in OTHER cities (out of the district) may cover the story. Maybe someone is planning to run again the 2010 election? I don't know the network there. Other papers have avoided coverage of stuff, and electorate wasn't aware. Election went off smoothly. A re-election. After all, how many people pay attention to political elections and politics? I Don't know. Just thinking.
sheepdog

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Nov 16, 2008
 

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Why is the title "Disabled mother at crux of probate abuse?"
What image does the word "disabled" conjure up?
It would seem to me that the word "disabled" might give the impression that there'd be less burden of proof for Conservatorship. When I read all the other input, The word "disabled" didn't come to mind at all.
Justice for Marilyn

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Nov 16, 2008
 

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Marilyn only needs to use a walker for assistance, if that is termed a disability...? Outside of that, she is mobile and has no other physical limitations beyond what you might expect of any other 85 year old.

She has mild vasular dementia, hardening of the arteries, that makes her forgetful at times, but she is way far from being "out of it". She engages actively in all conversations, stays up on the news events, and still has very clear opinions of what she wants and doesn't want. One of her strongest is she wants go home.
what a world

Ringwood, NJ

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#20
Nov 16, 2008
 
Anyone have any idea of the motive of the east coast branch of the family? Sounds like they have more money than the mother, so why?

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