Guadalupe Olvera’s right to move in with his daughter in Aptos was disputed by Nevada authorities for almost three years. (Photo by Chip Scheuer)
Last month Guadalupe Olvera, 93, rode in the Aptos Fourth of July parade. A survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, Olvera cruised through town in a vintage World War II jeep with his fellow VFW members. They waved at the families lining the streets, who saluted from the sidewalk and shouted, “Thank you for your service!”
It was a lovely day, but it’s been a long road for Olvera and his family to the Aptos parade. For most of the last three years Olvera and his daughter, Rebecca Schultz of Aptos, have been entangled in a messy and expensive guardianship dispute with his court-appointed guardian, Jared Shafer, a professional guardian and fiduciary who operates a business in Las Vegas.
Guardianship, also referred to as conservatorship, is a legal process where a judge appoints a third party individual to care for a “ward,” usually an elderly or disabled person. The guardian takes direct control over the ward’s life, both personally and financially. The guardian is often responsible for big decisions such as where the ward will live, who is allowed to visit with the ward and even whether to continue with life-support systems.
But the three-year dispute with Shafer wasn’t over the finer details of Olvera’s care. It was over who was entitled to serve as guardian of him and his nearly $1 million estate: Shafer or Schultz, Olvera’s only living child.
Schultz, an artist given to impassioned exclamation over injustices, sees more than a troublesome series of lawsuits for herself over the course of the ordeal. She sees at best a system weighted against families and at worst a conspiracy to steal from the elderly, sanctioned by Nevada courts and overlooked by the federal government.
She claims that Shafer has stolen outright from her father, saying that a year’s worth of Olvera’s carpenter pensions and social security payments are missing and have “never been accounted for.”
She says Shafer fabricated bills and withdrew excessive funds from Olvera’s Wells Fargo checking account, depleting it by almost $300,000 since November 2009.
“I went into this not knowing anything about guardianship. Not knowing anything about lawyers. I’m just an artist. I’m just a normal person. I didn’t know how bad Nevada was. I didn’t know how corrupt it was,” says Schultz.
Neither Shafer nor his attorneys would comment for this article.