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)
Adding insult to the injury, Schultz paid for her attorney fees with the help of a friend. Freer’s fees, however, were taken out of Olvera’s estate—but padded first, according to Schultz.
In fact, bank statements from Shafer’s guardianship, viewed by the Weekly, show several confounding billing discrepancies. There are duplicate billings of multiple invoices with the same invoice number. There are extraordinarily high charges, such as a total of $7,475 billed for emails sent over the period of just 19 days, all listed at exactly “6 minutes each.” One bill shows a bizarre charge for 1.666667 hours. After Olvera moved to California, Shafer continued to bill his estate for in-person visits with him, which would have been impossible.
Guardians are lawfully allowed to use the elderly ward’s estate money to fight in court to maintain the guardianship, often in cases against the ward’s children or other family members, resulting in a mind-bending Catch-22. People like Schultz wind up feeding the very system they’re fighting against.
Schultz’s accusations against Shafer may seem extreme and almost unbelievable, but she is far from the only one making these claims. Just typing the name Jared E. Shafer into Google’s search engine pulls up several pages of complaints against him on consumer report websites, making it impossible to unearth his professional web site through the heaps of corruption accusations. And this isn’t just a Las Vegas problem.
“This is happening on an ongoing basis all over the country. The states where old folks go to retire like Florida, Nevada, California are the worst,” affirms Elaine Renoire, Director of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse.
In a September 2010 report on the issue, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) “identified hundreds of allegations of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010.”
“In 20 selected closed cases,” the report reads, “GAO found that guardians stole or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million in assets from 158 incapacitated victims, many of whom were seniors. In some instances, guardians also physically neglected and abused their victims.”
Closer to home, the Mercury News recently conducted a six-month investigation into guardian and fiduciary abuse in Santa Clara County. Reporters found similar instances of lavish bills from guardians going unchallenged by the courts.