Applied Knowledge with Coaching

Knowledgebase, Course, and Summit with Personal Coaching
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Prepare yourself with important information about applicable Guardianship/Conservatorship and Probate Laws, Rules, Legal Proceedings, Common Questions, and Ownership & Privacy Rights.

Frequently Asked Questions
Benefit from answers to 21 common questions that may apply to your situation.

Guardianship & Probate Terms of Art
Understand the meaning of common legal terms relating to Guardianship/Conservatorship and Probate

Guardianship & Probate Process Overview
Know the stakeholders, procedures, and fees surrounding Guardianship/Conservatorship proceedings and the Probate process

Federal and State Probate Laws & Rules
Know the Federal and State Probate Laws & Rules organized by Topics relevant to your situation
  • Probate Code
  • Statutes of Limitations
  • Privacy Protections on Probate Cases
  • IRS Involvement in Probate Proceedings
  • Medicare-MEDICAID Paydown of Assets
Ownership and Privacy Records White Paper
Understand the critical issues relating to ownership and privacy of medical and other records that arise out of Guardianships/Conservatorships. 

Guardianship Questionnaire
Understand the key considerations regarding the challenging and/or removal of a Guardian.  

Probate Questionnaire
Understand the key considerations regarding the filing of a Probate proceeding. 


Learn from interviews with fourteen generous-spirited people who’ve been through various aspects of the elder care experience who offer their knowledge. They come from all walks of life—from the law to brokerage, to counseling and publishing and elder advocacy. They tell you, frankly, what worked and what didn’t work for them, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

10 Video Interviews

Part I—Caring for Loved Ones at a Distance

Jenna Viscaya, psychotherapist, shows you how she coped while working, for a decade, as a court-appointed family guardian, to care for a father who lived a thousand miles away, and what she wishes she’d done differently.

Sherri Burr, now Professor Emerita of Law at the University of New Mexico, explains how she dealt with the many challenges posed by her out-of-state brother’s devastating heart attack, and the years after that when she stepped up and assumed total responsibility for his welfare. Did her status as an attorney affect the outcome? Listen and find out.

Part II—Housing and Physical Needs

Linda MacDougall—senior care advocate extraordinaire—shows you how sometimes simple hacks (and a dose of common sense) can greatly improve both the safety and the quality of life for older people. She filters this information through her years of personal and professional experience with elders living on their own as well as in institutions.

James Lee is the survivor of a family journey in which he gained personal experience with eldercare. Now he’s a podcaster for reformers within the elder care industry and works on designing innovative methods that make it safer for elders who wish to remain in their own homes to do so.

Part III—Financial Matters

Bett Darken, who held licenses in the area of insurances and investment, made it his mission to help others after his family experienced financial devastation in probate court. He now teaches people about identifying and preventing similar problems. 

Part IV—Avoiding Legal Troubles (Family Relations)

Randy Rolfe, best-selling author, former attorney and now a counselor, suggests ways of alternate dispute resolution before anyone thinks about going to court.

Part V—Organizations That Pick Up the Pieces: Families as Collateral Damage

Rick Black has spent the years since 2013 helping over 4000 others cope with the painful consequences of what he describes as our dysfunctional court-administered guardianship system.

Part VI—The Media: Tips for Dealing with the Media

Diane Dimond—broadcast and print investigative journalist—offers you guidelines on how to work with the media if you can’t get satisfaction through the courts.

Part VII—Legal Intervention: When Attorneys and the Courts are Needed

James Dory, attorney, tries to keep estate cases out of probate court. He is not looking for new clients (he does say this during his video, too); he is simply trying to offer help and hope to others.

Alexandra Snyder, CEO of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, only handles cases where a vulnerable person’s life is in danger. Sometimes, institutions and commercial guardians (and even family guardians) withhold food or water or medical treatment. Is this happening to your loved one?

4 Downloadable Audio Interviews

Part I: Caring for Loved Ones at a Distance

Jacqui Ryan, credentialed as a real estate agent, advocates for checking carefully—and regularly—on the fitness of home care aides (how she came to believe this should be mandatory will likely shock you)

Brad Thompson, American expatriate, explains how he managed to care for his aging mother, while continuing to manage a publishing house and live (most of that time) in London.

Part III: Financial Matters

Erik Gallegos, an investment advisor with a master’s degree in international finance, explains some of the basic reasons why most people’s aging loved ones (if they’re over 65) either are now—or soon will be—broke.

Part V: Organizations That Pick Up the Pieces: Families as Collateral Damage

Marcia Southwick, a prizewinning poet, turned “elder rights activist” after seeing what happened to a close friend enmeshed in the commercial guardianship system. She lets you re-experience her journey with her.


Be prepared and apply your knowledge as you deal with the predictable hazards families face in coping with dependent loved ones. You'll see how many families get into trouble and learn to find ways to avoid these problems yourself.  You will learn about coping with health issues, finances, living arrangements, troubled family relationships, and finally dealing with the court system and the media.

6 Learning Modules Over 40 Downloadable Aids

Over 100 Resources Links

Module 1:

Video 1: Starting on the Journey 
Considering that our society is aging, if you don’t already need the information in this course, you will soon.

Video 2: Family Matters Why an academic knowledge isn’t the answer; how (and why) I got involved in this work 

Video 3: Where? What does the word “home” mean to you? What does it mean to  your loved one? Are these the same definitions?

Video 4: How Can You Plan Something So Indefinite? 
It’s hard to plan a budget if you don’t know, for sure, what’s going to happen. But you need to make a number of alternate plans for various likely scenarios, if you want your loved one to be safe.

Video 5: Deciding What’s Important—A Prelude to War? 
Now’s the time to make your lists of what’s truly important to you; your loved one should do that when fully competent. That’s the ideal. If there’s a clash of values, now’s the time to find it out so you can resolve disagreements in a way that’s agreeable to both/all involved.

Module 2: What are the Hazards?

Video 1: What’s Your Place in All This? 
Where do our current problems with guardianship fit into the historical context of guardianship? This module explains how the process becomes infinitely complicated when “professionals” get involved, why people go broke during retirement, and what the hazards may be of relying on outside agents.

Video 2:  Preventing Immediate Hazards 
The history of guardianship and why most elders go broke. “Classical” signs of dementia. Physical hazards to the loved one; potential legal hazards for you.

Video 3: When You Can’t Prevent Trouble 
Do you have Monday morning quarterbacks? What part might the state play in overseeing your caregiving? Do families or professional caregivers do a more efficient job of relieving more people of their money and possessions? Planning for emergencies.

Video 4: Relying on Others 
If someone associated with the courts decides your family is “imperfect,” it might be destroyed. How does court-imposed secrecy feed into this situation?

Module 3: Money and Possessions

Video 1: Finances 
Do family members really have rights anymore? The great wealth transfer, from the Baby Boomers, is now in progress. Who is most likely to receive all this money?

Video 2: What’s a Nest Egg? 
If you lose your health, you are also likely to lose your wealth. Does the medical care most seniors need exceed what they’ve saved?

Video 3: What Recourse Do You Have? 
How much does it cost to manage a trust/investment account? Who is managing your loved one’s money? Does someone have a power of attorney?

Video 4: What about Passing on Possessions? 
A moral legacy might survive the loss of money. Smaller, meaningful gifts might get to their intended beneficiaries; larger bequests might be needed (and used) for your care, years earlier.

Module 4: Legalities

Video 1: Legal Matters (in General) 
The court system (and its various functionaries) play a huge part in this scenario.  This module will take the 50,000-foot-high view of this terrain.

Video 2: Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Conservatorships and Guardianships 
What problems seem to exist when attempting to use the forms we have been taught avoid problems—powers or attorney, trusts, conservatorships, and guardianships?

Video 3: Judges 
Many family members of wards believe that judges seem to have a distinctly anti-family philosophy that affects how they treat the wards’ loved ones, despite the fact that a far smaller number of rogue commercial guardians can abuse a far larger number of wards during any given length of time. Why?

Video 4: What Did They/Can They Make You Sign?

Recent reforms have put an end to some personal representatives’ demand for blanket releases from heirs. What other restrictions can the courts or a guardian/conservator put on your freedom? Do they last forever?

Module 5: Caring for the Caregiver

Video 1: Emotional Support 
Caregivers are especially prone to burnout; they must guard their own health to make sure their loved one also gets the necessary care. This video, and the ones that complete this module, offer ways to make it more likely that you will reach both goals.

Video 2: Caring for Yourself—Respite 
Many methods exist to give yourself emotional support—everything from breathing exercises to making sure you laugh daily. This video explores a number of the most popular ways of relaxing in the face of adversity.

Video 3: Finding Community 
If you are living under a gag order or a non-disparagement agreement, you have a lot of company. However, it’s dangerous to speak out about your grievances in public because you might be fined or jailed for contempt of court, or in fact punished for violating any agreement you might have signed. If you are still truly free to speak and meet with anyone you like, rejoice! You can join safely with others.

Video 4: Getting Advice from a Survivor 
There are different sorts of survivors. Some barely made it through. They are seriously emotionally scarred; their life may never reach anything approaching normal again. Some ended up bankrupt. Others managed to survive and thrive. Which group would you rather learn from?

Module 6: Counseling, Mediation, The Courts and the Court of Public Opinion

Video 1: Practical Steps at Opportune Times — The Family “Ideal” 
How the courts demand perfection from the family members of wards, and then punish the relatives when they turn out to be human.

Video 2: Before Trouble Strikes (Counseling) 
If you knew what was coming, what going to court experience was really like, would you try to head it off?

Video 3: Mediation 
In preference to spending years in court, and (at least) tens of thousands of dollars on legal help, would you try mediation? What if it’s already too late for that?

Video 4: The Legal Route 
The greater the underlying disagreements, the more complex the problem, the longer it will take and the more it will cost to resolve your issues. Even then, they might not all be resolved.

Video 5: The Court of Public Opinion 
When have you lost your own freedom of speech and association? What can you do to get your freedoms back? What if you get money but still don’t have your freedom of speech?

Over 40 Downloadable Aids, Including:

Track your progress and discover how easy it is to budget your time to finish the work, what you believe you still need to learn, and see how you’re progressing.

Comfort Ratings (You will fill this form out, at intervals during the course, to see where you are already feeling more secure and where you might still need a little more information)

Outline of the Course (All six modules, laid out for you)

Slides for Module 1 (Statistics for you on numbers of people under guardianship and complaints against guardians; general information about the course)

Guardianship Definitions Cheat Sheet (A set of definitions you might otherwise find confusing. What’s the difference between a “ward,” and a “protected person”?)

Self-Evaluation Questionnaire (At various times, as you take the course, you will stop and see how our attitude changes toward various topics.)

What Is Home? (What does the word “home” mean to you? To your loved one?)

SWOT Form (You will fill this out at various points, to measure potential threats and identify areas where you feel secure getting help or people from whom you can get help.)

Expense Categories (Knowing the categories provides a way to help you plan financial outlays)

Where are the Hazards? (assessing risk to your loved-one)

Questions about Values Documents (Six questions to help you assess your own degree of confidence in any document presented to you by any third person as your loved one’s wishes.)

Values History (An example of a printed form, for writing down what a person thinks is important in various areas of life. This particular form has been in use for almost twenty years.)

Outline of Module 2 (How the way guardianship develop has caused problems; why starting late creates trouble; why money vanishes and what about relying on others?)

Problems with the Probate (Four basic reasons—not related to illegal activities—why families feel emotionally buffeted by the probate/guardianship system)

Why We Are Having Problems (Eight reasons—ranging from demographics to regulatory issues and medical costs—why we have arrived at a state of confusion and frustration in dealing with caring for incapacitated people)

Slides for Module 2 (A short chart on the history of guardianship; how dementia problems might show themselves and some idea of how many different sorts of non-health professions who might now be mandated to report suspected dementia without fear of legal sanctions if they’re wrong.)

Major Categories of Concern (Ten Points to consider. Is your loved one in need of help?)

Who May Be Required to Report Suspected Dementia? (Nine categories of people often required by the state to report suspected dementia and two more who might also be able to do so.)

Some Reasons We’re in Trouble (Seven reasons why the money runs out while our elders are still alive.)

Become a Family Caregiver. (Eight matters to consider carefully before deciding to attempt to become an officially recognized “family caregiver”)

Does a Springing Power of Attorney Really Help? (Six short explanations of how the intention of a springing power of attorney must either be extremely clear or be frustrated by legal maneuvers)

What Must You Plan? (Eight things—ranging from DNRs and hygiene matters to emergency plans—to consider when attempting to care for someone else.)

Example of Infractions (Thirteen ways caregivers get into trouble, including administrative issues, quality of care issues, and anything your state might define as elder abuse or an illegal action.)

Slides for Module 3 (These range from Medicare-related issues to financial issues like inflation that erode an elder’s ability to pay the bills.)

The Big Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover (Six health-related expenses that tend to grow over time, and that Medicare doesn’t cover)

Potential Sources of Strife (Six of the most frequent reasons families can end up fighting when their elders need care)

Common Elder Frauds/Scams (Three of the most common elder frauds.)

Slides for Module 4 (The six most frequent complaints against commercial guardians; organizations that might help; the documents that have power over you)

Who Has the Power? (This chart explains who as the power—the person, the attorney-in fact, the trustee, the personal representative/executor, and for how long.)

Problems in the Probate (This expands on the prior “Problems in the Probate” chart to explain more about how the attitude of the court itself may be harmful to families)

Excuses Judges May Make (Four excuses judges make to avoid spending time judging guardianship issues—holding “evidentiary hearings” or allowing juries to participate in guardianship cases.)

Who Creates Documents and What They Can Do (Seven entities that might create legal documents designed to control your actions, and what sorts of penalties you might face if you violate their terms.)

What the Guardian May Do (Five actions a commercial guardian frequently takes that require the agreement of the judge but might go against the wishes of heirs/beneficiaries)

Ways to Moderate Stress (Ten methods many people have found helpful in moderating stress)

Slides for Module 5 (How everything from prayer and meditation to a change in perspective might help you cope with stress)

New Goals Workbook (A 4-week workbook with four exercises to illustrate how you have already experienced growth in the past, despite obstacles.)

Respite (A chart showing where respite and respite care are available, and who provides them)

Pros and Cons of Getting Organizational Support (Four areas in which you might want—or decide that you don’t want—to ask specific organizations for help with your loved one)

ULC Recommendations in Proposed New Guardianship Statute (In three major areas of your loved one’s life, the ULC recommends that the judge have the power to make the major decisions.)

Questions to Consider (Eight areas that often give rise to disputes.)

Slides for Module 6 (Steps relating to dispute resolution—from counseling to mediation to court)

These People Are Affected When Someone Loses the Ability to Function (Ten categories of people who might—depending on what the state’s laws say—have a say in what happens to your loved one.)

Points to Consider about Mediation (6 points about mediation before trying it in your specific situation)

Problems with Probate and Sequestered Guardianship Cases (Five issues that affect whether people want to keep their cases secret and how secrecy or an openness to public view might affect the results)

Potential Positive Aspects of Public Probate (Seven reasons why a public probate process might contribute to a resolution before the case goes to trial.)

Why Trusts Might Not Protect the Ward (Five ways in which trustees can be changed or trusts dissolved by the action of the court and against the wishes of the original grantor and his/her beneficiaries)

Bonus Download—Civil Rights Law Firms (A four-page report describing eight legal entities that often represent cases that they believe qualify in their specific areas of interest on a pro bono—i.e., free—basis.)

About Speaking Out While under a Gag Order (Five different areas in which violating a gag order may subject you to a judge’s punishment of fines or jail time, or to a suit by someone else, claiming slander or libel, and if you lose, there might be penalties there as well.

Guidelines for Submission to the Anthology (A 12-question outline for creating a description of your case, to be considered for inclusion in an anthology to be published by Dayspring Resources. The submission must follow the requirements in order to be considered.)

Over 100 Resources
—these include the following links:

14 Links to Relevant Financial Information Websites

9 Links to Family Caregiving Information

7 Links to the Websites Discussing Judicial Performance

6 Links to Websites Relating to Involuntary/Emergency Guardianship

6 Links to Websites Dealing with Court Cases, Courts and Court Practices

5 Links to Websites Offering Self-Help Measures for Family Caregivers

4 Links to Commercial Guardianship Associations and their Websites

3 Links Specific to Dementia

3 Links Specific to Values

3 Links Specific to Gag Orders

3 Links Specific to Long-Distance Caregiving

3 Links to Websites Describing Various Federal Pensions/Benefits

3 Links to Definitions

3 Links Specific to Websites concerning Monitoring of a Guardianship Situation

3 Links to Websites Describing Methods for Having Difficult Conversations with Loved Ones

Additional links are provided for websites describing attempts to prevent members of the public from suing commercial guardians/conservators, devices to help with home care, caregiving standards, law firms, problems in the legal system, inheritances, Medicaid, defamation, emotional abuse, isolation, home care (in general), historical matters, trusts, activities of daily living, financial abuse, financial abuse, and do not resuscitate orders.

Personal Coaching

Up to 3 Private 50-Minute Coaching Sessions (via Zoom or phone) to identify what you want to achieve and what you want to avoid, along with reality tests to see how your proposed solutions are likely to play out in the real world. Because I survived this horror for 14 years and won my freedom back, even after a judge imposed a global gag order, I’m in a unique position to coach you on how to survive this process. (Note: I am not an attorney or medical doctor, this coaching is not legal or medical advice, and I will not discuss with you anything you are forbidden to discuss by a court order or a non-disparagement agreement or any other contractual obligation