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)
Bait & Switch
In 2002, as Schultz tells it, her father and mother moved to Nevada, “lured by promotional videos sent by property developers” promising no state income taxes and ample senior citizen services. The couple moved to Nevada alone, leaving behind their only living daughter and their grandchild. Schultz says she discouraged them from leaving California, where they had lived for their entire adult lives, but kept in touch with them and visited their Nevada home.
In 2005 Olvera’s wife filed for guardianship over her husband’s person. (Court documents obtained by the Weekly state that Olvera has had mild dementia since 2004 but that he is able to communicate and express preferences.) When his wife died in November 2009, Olvera’s guardianship was freed up. Nevada law states that a guardian must live in the same state as the ward, so Schultz wasn’t immediately qualified. She called Family Court Commissioner Jon Norheim’s office for advice. According to Schultz, the woman who answered the phone told her she would need to have a temporary guardian put in place and gave her Shafer’s unlisted home telephone number.
When Schultz called Shafer, he told her she needed an attorney, too. Schultz says he set up an appointment for her with elder law attorney Elyse Tyrell for the next morning.
At the appointment with Tyrell the next day, Schultz says they agreed to put Shafer in place as a temporary guardian while Schultz worked out the details of moving her father to California so she could become his guardian and care for him there. Tyrell filed the guardianship orders immediately.
A few days later, Schultz and Shafer went to her father’s home together and stepped aside for a private conversation about Olvera’s guardianship.
According to Schultz, that day Shafer told her that he expected he would be able to transfer the guardianship of her father to Schultz within three to six months. She says he told her not to mention anything about guardianship to her father for fear that it might cause him anxiety, and limited how long her visits with her father could last.
These limitations seemed strange and frustrating to Schultz, who grew eager to bring her father back to California with her and leave the situation behind them.
When she returned to California in late November 2009, Schultz conducted an internet search of Shafer and found something unsettling: an ethics charge brought against him from the family of another ward, back in 2003. This seemed like a red flag to Schultz, who turned to her attorney, Tyrell, for assistance and says she got quite a surprise.
“She told me, ‘I don’t work for you, I work for Jared Shafer. You’re more than welcome to hire another attorney and petition the court for guardianship.’”
In November, Schultz had paid Tyrell a total of $3,700 for her legal services, outlined in a document signed by both women that states plainly, “This agreement is made on this 13th day of November, 2009, between Rebecca Schultz as guardian for Guadalupe Olvera and the law firm of Trent, Tyrell & Associates.”
On Feb. 9, 2010, however, Schultz received a letter from Tyrell that included a reimbursement check for the $3,700. The letter denied that Tyrell had ever been Schultz’s attorney: “During our meeting on November 13, 2009 and, during several telephone conversations subsequent thereto, I explained to you that I represent Jared E. Shafer as your father’s guardian and I do not represent you.”
Tyrell failed to respond to multiple phone messages left by the Weekly.