Why We Need A Visitation Bill

By Martha Patterson

I was able to get Kerri Kasem into the Nursing Home where her dad Casey Kasem was staying because Federal Law requires a Skilled Nursing Home to allow a resident to have visitation with anyone they want.  I had heard the Judge and the Court appointed attorney say in court that Casey Kasem wanted to see his children.  Unfortunately this law only applies in hospitals and nursing homes and when visitation is refused there is NO way to enforce this law, worse yet there is NO law and NO way a child can request a visit with their parent in a private residence so when an elder is being isolated by his or her spouse, adult child or a caregiver there is NO easy way for a child to just ask for the right to see their parent.  A Conservatorship often is not even an option because a Conservatorship requires the child to prove their parent lacks the ability to make decisions. 

 

I often talk to people who have reached out to Kerri for help seeing a parent, I have even gone to court trying to obtain Conservatorship. The stories are all similar they all start the same “I haven’t been allowed to see my dad (or mom)”  Often followed by “I don’t even know where they are, they were moved by my step-parent or brother or sister. Can you help me?” Often the answer is no.

I have been in court on several cases since I helped Kerri see her dad and then become his Conservator. The primary reason Kerri was able to become a Conservator when Casey’s wife is the presumed first choice was the fact that Jean Kasem had acted against medical advice in removing Casey from the nursing home.  An example of how difficult these cases is a case I have where the child I represent has been denied the right to see his dad by his mother who is being influenced by her daughter and son in-law who have moved into the home.  His dad has dementia and his mother is ill, when we were in court the Judge recognized the fact that the father was being isolated but was unwilling to order visitation because as the Judge said to the mom “she is the queen of her home”.  We are in the process of mediating visitation but the court is not currently involved.

Here is the bill we need it passed in California and nationwide.

 I am tired of telling people I can’t help them.

AB 2034, as amended, Gatto. Elder and dependent adults.

Existing law requires the conservator of a person to be responsible for the care, custody, control, and education of the conservatee, except when the court, in its discretion, limits the powers and duties of the conservator, as specified.

This bill would require the conservator of an elder or dependent adult to inform the relatives of the conservatee whenever the conservatee dies or is admitted to a medical facility for acute care for a period of 3 days or more and would require the conservator, in the event of the death of the conservatee, to inform the relatives of any funeral arrangements and the location of the conservatee’s final resting place. 

Existing law authorizes a conservator or a trustee of an elder or dependent adult, an attorney-in-fact of an elder or dependent adult, a person appointed as a guardian ad litem for an elder or dependent adult, or another person legally authorized to seek a protective order on behalf of an elder or dependent adult who has suffered physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering, or the deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.

This bill would allow a relative of the first degree to bring a petition for a visitation order to enjoin a respondent from keeping an elder or dependent adult in isolation from contact with the petitioner.

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