Public Comments for: HB623 - Guardianship and conservatorship; duties of the guardian ad litem, report contents.
Last Name: Snider Organization: AARP Virginia Locality: Richmond

AARP Virginia supports legislation that improves the rights of the individual under guardianship and ensures due process of those rights. As such we are in support of House Bills 424 (Herring), 623 (Hudson), 634 & 643 (Roem).

Last Name: Bell Organization: Anastasia’s Voice Locality: Prince William County

Good Afternoon Mr. Chairman and committee members. My name is Yolanda Bell and I thank you for allowing me to speak today. I am a Veteran and constituent of Del Roem’s. I have come to testify in favor of guardianship reform for the last three years. I promised my mother the day before she died I would take care of my sister Anastasia and keep her safe. The Inova guardians made a liar out of me. My sister was 120+lbs when the guardians took her.  She weighed a mere 87lbs nine months later when they ended her life. She had no terminal illness. This is what happens when wards are allowed to be isolated from loving family and friends.  When reporting requirements and oversight of guardians and by guardians is lax and almost nonexistent vulnerable wards suffer, are abused, neglected, and die. Anastasia literally had 13 holes in her body and too many bruises to count. Delegate Roem has seen the autopsy pictures. Her isolation was so severe that she was forced to die alone with no one to hold her hand, tell her they loved her, no one to pray with her or over her. Clergy was even turned away preventing them from giving her the last rites of the Church. My mother always taught us "family will be there for you when no one else will." The extra sets of eyes are taken away by guardian isolation leaving no one to look out for them or to protect them.   The entire situation surrounding my sisters guardianship was a travesty of epic proportions. No one should be ripped away from a loving and caring family. Even the judge said my sister was well taken care of by me. No one should be forced to die alone. And guardians, professional court appointed guardians who make their living off the pain and suffering of the elderly and disabled - the vulnerable - should not have carte blanche power to isolate wards from family especially where no abuse, neglect, or exploitation has been alleged or found. Our father was a combat veteran serving 26 years in the Air Force. It astounds me that almost 5 years later we are still fighting to get these basic protections for the disabled and elderly who are conscripted into these guardianships. I am grateful that the JLARC Study exposed and highlighted the numerous problems we have with guardianships and professional guardians here in Virginia, not the least of which are isolation and lack of oversight. Guardianships as they currently stand in Virginia strip the wards of their constitutional rights. In 1974 the US Supreme Court in Stanley v. Illinois held that "family association rises to a constitutional right."  What was done to my sister Anastasia will haunt me for the rest of my life. The bottom line and reality of the situation is that I should not have had to beg to see my sister. I should not have had to beg to spend time with her, to be by her side, especially once they decided to end her life. No one should have to beg and plead with anyone let alone strangers to be with their loved one especially if they are dying. God by whatever name you choose to call Him, and by whatever means you choose to worship Him, commands us to protect and care for the vulnerable, for “the least of these among us”. You have an opportunity ensure what happened to my sister and our family never happens again to anyone else. People are being hurt and are dying.  Please pass these bills to protect the most vulnerable among us. Thank you for your time and attention. Sincerely, Yolanda Bell

Last Name: Gelbman Organization: Gelbman Law PLLC Locality: Charlottesville

As an attorney who has served as counsel to Petitioner's in Guardianship (institutional and private) AND to Respondent (alleged incapacitated) and as Court Appointed Guardian Ad Litem, I am very familiar with the real life implications and human concerns with the parties in these cases. I am thoroughly familiar with the current Guardianship statutes, procedures and the weaknesses in the system. I have read all the proposed bills, as well as the JLARC report and would like to comment. I am not particularly opposed nor in favor

End of Comments