Despite what the New Mexico Judiciary and the Developmental Disabilities-Office of Guardianship have reported to the Legislative Health and Human Services Interim committee, the guardianship system in New Mexico continues to be in crisis.
Abusive guardianships continue to occur in New Mexico, sponsored by predatory attorneys and sanctioned by district court judges.
The guardianship law, 45-5-101 through 45-5-617, was established in 2012 to protect and preserve the wellbeing and assets of the incapacitated person. However, this is not what is happening in the Land of Enchantment.
Unethical professionals (district court judges, petitioning attorneys, corporate guardians, GALs and conservators) continue to abuse the system.
The individuals who control the outcome of the guardianship case are the petitioning attorney and the district court judge.
The judge grants the power to the appointed guardian and conservator, who control every aspect of the “protected person’s” life, such as where the individual lives, what medication is prescribed and is taken, what doctors the person may visit, who can visit and speak to the individual and, of course, their money and assets!
Additionally, New Mexico courts have disregarded the legitimate written directives, wills and trusts that have been prepared.
In order for true guardianship reform to occur, judges must appoint guardians and conservators who understand, respect and advocate for the wishes and best interests of the “protected person.”
This is exactly why family members and guardianship advocate groups must be recognized as the experts when it comes to hearing and understanding our loved ones.
Family members must also have an “equal voice” at the decision-making table. We are the “eyes and ears on the ground.”
We have the day-to-day experiences with our loved ones. We know the individual, his/her likes, dislikes, triggers, medical history, hopes and dreams.
A corporate guardian and conservator are complete strangers who are strictly involved for profit.
Our state leaders (New Mexico legislators, New Mexico cabinet secretaries, our New Mexico attorney general and our New Mexico governor) must address these injustices to ensure that our most vulnerable population’s human rights, civil rights and financial assets are respected and protected.
The media must continue to report on these concerns!
The public has a right to know!
David Heeter, Lorraine Mendiola and Jorja Armijo-Brasher
The New Mexico Family Guardianship/Conservatorship Informal Coalition