Terri Gillotte commented on Share Your Story 2020-08-12 08:10:40 -0700Thank you for listening to my story I appreciate any help you can give me. I’ll start with a little back story and then bring you up to date on the current situation. My dad was in the Air Force for over 30 yrs. I think because we are a military family my family; my dad, mom, sister I have always been really close. The four of us are always available to help each other out whenever we need it. My parents got divorced in 1995 but they stayed very close friends after they were divorced. My dad would visit my mom almost every day. They occasionally had dinner together during the week, attend family events together and they talked on the phone almost every day.
When my dad started to have memory issues my mom helped him with his checkbook; helping him make sure his bills were paid on time.
My Dad has always been an amazing dad, I know a lot of people say that but he is definitely pretty great. When we, my sister Ann and I were kids he always made sure we knew how to do things most girls didn’t. We learned how to change oil in cars, and change brakes, sparkplugs, and a few other automotive related repairs. Both he and my mom worked to raise us as independent, thoughtful individuals.
Our family always worked together to get things done and we could move on to something fun. Everyone contributed! My sister and I had our first paying job when we were 6 and 7 yrs. old. My dad taught us how to polish his boots for fifty cents a boot. We would beg him to let us shine them weekly! As we got older he helped us with anything we wanted or needed. Helped being the key word. My dad never gave us anything without some buy in from us. When we were in college we bought our own cars but he helped with repairs and insurance. We both paid for our own college as well but my mom and dad would help us with most everything else. He wanted to know that we needed to work and be responsible for what we want and do. We also had an equal amount of fun with my dad! Even while working he would make jokes and we found ourselves enjoying the work; whatever it was at the time. My dad was always the one who took us to the ER when we needed stiches or were sick. He was calm and carrying.
As adults we have grown to appreciate our dad’s methods of help and teaching us to be independent and wouldn’t have asked for it to be any other way. My dad was always looking for ways to help us. He always stopped by my house if my husband and I were working on something, ever the First Sargent he would supervise the project and offer suggestions. My husband and my dad became good friends; my dad would share his wisdom freely ( my dad loved to talk!) and my husband enjoyed listening to his advice. On Sunday’s my mom, dad, my husband and I would always get together for dinner. My dad would start asking what we thought we should have and want to usually grill some prime cut of meat he bought at the local butchers. He was always available for emergencies when we were first married helping when money was tight and also with advice. Even after my husband and I were doing well financially he would constantly offer to help. I would decline and he would always add, “If you need help I’m here.”
In about 2010 my dad decided he wanted to get his affairs in order. He went to the local VA hospital for healthcare as well as a local civilian doctor. He told my sister and I that he chose us for his durable power of attorney if we ever needed to make medical decisions for him. He also had a ladybird deed written up with my sister and I named as his family members who would get the house when he passes away. He also named us as beneficiaries on his savings and money market accounts.
My dad and I usually had lunch once a week or if he had a dentist or doctor appointment at the VA hospital, about an hour away, we always stop for lunch. My dad loved going out for lunch.
We talk about the gossip he heard while having coffee with “the guys” at the local coffee shop and he would give me suggestions about what to do with any issues I was having at the time.
He liked helping people. He also liked playing the lotto and Keno. His numbers were my mom’s, my sister’s, his and my birthdays. He always played them. When he won, he would share whatever he won with the three of us, saying if we weren’t born on those dates he wouldn’t have won. He was pretty lucky too!
My dad, husband and I would occasionally play Keno on Friday evenings at a local restaurant. He would meet us there after he had gone to the Elks club for their fish fry.
On March 15, 2017, my Dad had a doctor’s appointment at the CBOC (Community Based Outreach Clinic) in Marquette; just 15 miles from where we live. He was worried about having memory issues and asked me to come to his appointment with him. Earlier that month he saw his civilian P.A Jeremy Steele for the same reason; I attended the appointment with Jeremy Steele as well. (Jeremy suggested that my dad see one doctor or the other to help manage his medical care better and keep track of his prescriptions. My dad had been seeing Mr. Steele as well as his doctor at the VA, Mr. Brendan Ewers P.A.)
My dad met with Mr. Ewers and they talked about my dad’s memory issues. Mr. Ewers asked my dad preliminary questions concerning his orientation times 3; if he knew who he was where he is and what the time was. My dad struggled with that exercise. He wrote in the time on the clock in military time (Greenwich Mean Time). Which is what he was used to when he was in the Air Force.
As my dad’s disease progressed my mom and I helped him with keeping track of his appointments and bills. He would be salty at times but my mom more than I, was able to keep him calm and help him not get too angry or frustrated. It was difficult to see my dad, who always had answers for everything struggle for words and to remember where he put things. Keys were a big problem. He wasn’t able to remember where he put them or what they were for. So I went to the hardware store and bought little plastic label holders for each set and labeled them so he would be able to find the keys he needed. I also with the help of the Nurse and doctor at the VA was able to get a home health nurse in to help him with his medications. He was mixing them up and accused me of not putting the correct pills in the right sections of his pill minder. This was the first time he got truly angry at me, ever. He yelled at me and told me that if I F-ed them up it would be my ass. He never talked to my sister or me like that ever. That was something I am sure he said to his airmen a million times but would’ve never said it to his daughters.
The nurse was able to come to check his weight and organize his medications. My mom and I went to my dad’s doctor appointments at the VA with him and things were going okay. He would still go to the Elks on Friday evenings. I have a friend who worked and she told me my dad was sitting with Elaine a local woman who owned a small bodega type store. My dad told us that he was going to see a movie with Elaine but I didn’t think anything of it because my dad would go out with other women in the area casually but he told his friends and family that he never wanted to get married again.
In December of 2017 my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after testing by Dr. Silverstein at the Oscar G. Johnson VA hospital in Iron Mountain MI. My mom, sister and I went to a few appointments with him with Dr. Silverstien a neuropsychologist Dr. Morley a neurologist and a social worker. In May of 2018 Dr. Silverstien activated my dad’s durable power of attorney naming my sister and me as the decision makers for his health care.
It was around this time that Elaine started interfering with my dad’s care. She and her lawyer friend convinced my dad to have a will written up. My dad asked my sister to sign it, The will named her as the beneficiary of his estate. Which both of us agreed was fine because my sister and I know that we are very fair to each other. Elaine easily convinced my dad because of his disease, I was trying to steal his money and put him in a nursing home. My dad became confrontational and angry with me.
There are many instances throughout the year of Elaine instigating problems and getting my dad upset and directing his anger at his family. My sister and I tried to do the best we could without upsetting my dad too much but it was difficult. He didn’t remember that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she didn’t believe that he was. We called protective services and the Adult Protective Services worker Christina, looked into my dad’s care and she was supportive of what we were doing. She set up a meeting with my sister, my dad, Elaine and me at my dad’s house. Christina felt it would help Elaine understand that we were in fact caring for my dad’s illness and doing it well. Elaine showed up to the meeting at my dad’s and said she was afraid of me, I had previously looked at her with hate in my eyes.
During the meeting elaine knitted; she said she was making them to donate and needed to get them finished. This meeting took place in April of 2019. The Adult Protective Services worker Christine told elaine that my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his DPOA was activated by Dr. Silverstien. She also told elaine that I had a care team set up through the VA.
My sister Ann told Elaine that we as his family, didn’t care if they spent time together socially but that we were handling his financial and health matters and she needed to let our family care for him the way he had asked to be care for when he was more aware of his health.
After the meeting and for the next few months my dad seemed to be more relaxed and spent more time with his family. My mom’s sister and brother in law passed away in May and June and my dad attended both of those funerals with his family. Also one of my parents dear friends passed away during this time and my dad attended her funeral as well, with us. My dad
came to Sunday dinners and my mom and I took him to his doctor’s appointment as usual. He was a little more cantankerous that he normally would have been but I found out that it was because of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. On the 4th of July our town parade goes by my house. My dad came over early to help set up the canopies for friends and family to stand under during the parade.
(On a side note, because of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis my dad wasn’t able to keep his driver’s license. He LOVED driving. He grew up on a farm and started driving anything with a motor and wheels almost as soon as he could walk. He raced cars, motorcycles and snowmobiles in his younger days. So after my dad lost his license my husband Steve found two used Metropolitan Scooters for my dad to look at to buy. My dad naturally chose the black faster one and I bought the other one, so we could ride together. I was a little worried about him riding it but he was amazing on it. He practiced for a short while in a parking lot then he was off riding around our small town. He stayed in town and enjoyed himself a lot!! )
After the parade we had a small cook out in our yard with family and friends and my dad asked if my husband and his daughter wanted to go to his house to light fireworks so we did. Aside from his Alzheimer’s being more noticeable we had our usual 4th of July celebration.
During this summer my dad would call and we’d go to lunch, I would pick him up and we would have lunch. One afternoon he told me that Elaine didn’t want to see him anymore. I told him that maybe it was a good thing and he could start doing more things with his friends and he wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a relationship. He said he wouldn’t miss her yelling at him. I asked what he meant. He said when he does things she doesn’t like she yells at him.
I told him that no one should yell at him like that and if she is doing that then maybe it’s good that she doesn’t want to do things with him.
In August my dad had another appointment with the Neurologist at the VA. My mom and I went with him to the appointment. She talked to my dad about Alzheimer’s disease, told him that my mom and I were available for help anytime he wanted it and that she needed to refer him to a civilian neurologist because she was retiring and she didn’t know how quickly the VA would be able to get someone else to fill the vacant job.
After the appointment we went to eat as usual, (my dad likes to go out to eat) he didn’t eat much but did have ice cream, which is unusual for him. Then we went to the grocery store, he bought a few things and I asked if he wanted to get more because he didn’t get much. He said he was fine; he seemed like he was getting tired. On our way home I played some music on the radio that I knew he liked. Mustang Sally, he sang along with it. It was nice to see him calm and not so anxious.
So about three days after that my dad called and asked for a form from the Michigan Secretary of State office that was sent to him after he had his license revoked. (It was a form he needed f take a test for his driver’s license. He was still a good driver but the Neurologist had to inform the Secretary of State that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and that generated the testing he needed. We had gone to one meeting with the Secretary of State once without it and they had to revoke his license until he was able to bring the paper and take the test. He lost track of the original paper so he brought the second one to my mom’s and asked me to keep it.)
I was surprised when he asked for it. He sounded angry. I told him I would keep it until he got confirmation from the Sec. of State and we could make the appointment. He started yelling and hung up.
I didn’t hear from him for a few days but it wasn’t out of the ordinary; he usually contacted my mom on those days for whatever reason. My mom called me and asked if I heard from my father. I said no, so I started worrying a little. I called his house and left a few messages. I am a volunteer mediator at my community dispute resolution center. I do small claims mediations at our local court house. Two of the clerks there said that Elaine brought my dad in to the court house to get a marriage license. Both clerks said she did all of the talking even though questions were being directed to him. One of the clerks said that he didn’t know how to answer any of the questions on the form to apply for the marriage certificate. The clerk said that Elaine and to tell him all of the answers and where to put them on the form. My dad didn’t know what he as filling out o signing.
I immediately petitioned the court for guardianship for my dad. The court clerk allowed us to have an emergency hearing. My husband came with me along with the lawyer I hired to help with our nightmare. The lawyer that was representing my dad friend of Elaine’s requested a jury trial. The judge granted his request and also granted a request for a second opinion. The judge set the jury trial for the end of November, 2019. I continued to call my dad to talk to him, leaving messages etc. but none were returned. My dad has a cell phone called my mom on it occasionally but then that stopped after about 4 months. My sister gets calls from him often.
I called and asked my dad if he was interested in coming to my mom’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas and he never returned my calls. The holidays were sad and horrible. My dad’s birthday is December 23 so we have always had an extended Christmas celebration and this year there wasn’t much to celebrate. I do have friends in the community that were aware of our situation and would update me on my dad, it helped a little to know he was still relatively healthy and going on outings.
The jury trial that was scheduled in November was cancelled because the second opinion hadn’t be scheduled so it was rescheduled for February. The Neuropsychologist who was chosen to do it was Dr. Dorothy Kahler. Because of my work with homeless youth and foster care I knew she was a good choice.
In February the lawyer chosen to represent my dad contacted my lawyer and asked if we could discuss the guardianship and possibly come to an agreement. They had received the evaluation from the Neuropsychologist and apparently it didn’t go the way he and elaine had hope it would.
I met with my lawyer and the lawyer that is representing my dad and we discussed the issues. I brought up the Neuropsychologists diagnosis being consistent with the one the VA gave my dad and the lawyer, Dominic Andriacchi Jr. wouldn’t discuss it. I asked about seeing my dad and he said that my dad didn’t want any contact with his family, which is a lie because he calls my sister almost daily, and my mom on occasion. Although I think Elaine took my mom’s number out of my dad’s phone because she hasn’t had any calls from him in a few months. So I told Andriacchi that my sister and I want everything to be returned to the way it was before my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. His accounts and all of his assets go back to my sister and me being the beneficiaries, his health care goes back to us. (My dad also has prostate cancer and hasn’t been to follow up appointments with the urologist that was taking care of him. He also has some serious dental issues that need to be consistently followed up with and I’m not sure if they have been or not.)If he is able he can stay at elaine’s house but they marriage will be dissolved. I don’t want her to benefit in any way from the death of my father. She was married twice before my dad and both of those men were left destroyed. The second husband ended up in prison for an incident that I don’t fully remember the details about but it had to do with a domestic incident with her. She owes over $300,000.00 dollars in federal and state taxes and probably has more unsecured debt as well.
The quarantine started right after this meeting so little progress took place from February through May. During the quarantine one of my dad’s friends told me that he got a call from my dad asking for help to move back to his house. My dad told him that Elaine said he had to leave. My dad’s friend said the next morning my dad called him back and said he was allowed to stay at elaine’s. This worries me that she is manipulating him even more that I had originally thought.
In May my lawyer gave me a proposal from the lawyer representing my dad. It was absurd and there wasn’t anything in it that addressed my dad’s care. It focused on his assets and that we agreed not to have contact with him. I told my lawyer there wasn’t anything in it that my dad would’ve requested. I know my dad didn’t have anything to do with what was written in it.
A status conference was held earlier in July and my lawyer said he didn’t have much information. My lawyer now seems to be less interested in this case and not as much support as he originally was. The status conference was rescheduled for July 31, 2020. Here is the proposal from the lawyer that is representing my father:
At this point, we will not agree that his daughters / ex-wife have medical decision making over Mr. LaBo anymore. Instead, Mr. LaBo wants medical decision-making in Elaine. He would also do a trust for most of his money but not all of it. Here is our counter-offer
1. The current case get dismissed in its entirety;
2. The daughters and ex-wife agree that Mr. LaBo has decision-making powers and is not mentally incapacitated as defined by Michigan statute at this time;
3. Mr. LaBo may re-do his powers of attorney and give those powers to whomever he sees fit;
4. The daughters and ex-wife agree that they will honor any/all of Mr. LaBo’s future powers of attorney, and they will not dispute them;
5. The daughters and ex-wife will file no further guardianship proceedings
6. In exchange, Mr. LaBo will place $350,000.00 into a revocable trust and the beneficiaries will be his daughters, and the funds will be distributed equally to the two of them upon his death;
7. However, if the daughters or ex-wife challenge Mr. LaBo’s powers of attorney, file future guardianship proceedings, contest his will or trust, or otherwise try to interfere with Mr. LaBo’s testamentary capacity, medical or financial decision-making, Elaine’s ability to see Mr. LaBo, file referrals to Adult Protective Services, file guardianship or conservatorship proceedings, file proceedings for an involuntary hospitalization, or in any other way dispute, challenge, contest Mr. LaBo’s wishes, either before or after his death, then the daughters and ex-wife would forfeit their right to any part of Mr. LaBo’s assets, estate, trust proceeds, house(s), or any other real or personal property.
Mr. LaBo also does not want to meet with his children given all that they have put him through.
I would note that, even if we were to go to a jury trial and lose, Mr. LaBo will name Elaine to be his full guardian over all medical and financial decision-making. If that occurs, Judge Hill is required, by statute, to appoint her: “In appointing a guardian under [MCL 700.5313], the court shall appoint a person … in the following order of priority: (a) A person previously appointed, qualified, and serving in good standing as guardian for the legally incapacitated individual in another state. (b) A person the individual subject to the petition chooses to serve as guardian. © A person nominated as guardian in a durable power of attorney or other writing by the individual subject to the petition.” MCL 700.5313(2).
As you can see by the word “shall,” Judge Hill has no discretion in the matter. Once that happens, your client will have no decision-making authority in any respect.
Perhaps after having the chance to talk to your client, she understands that Elaine has not taken Mr. LaBo’s money, has never done that, will not in the future, and any debts that Elaine had are hers alone.
This settlement offer expires at the start of the upcoming pretrial conference.
I told my lawyer that we were absolutely not interested in any of that. This proposal states that my dad requested all of these things and I know for a fact that he didn’t. My dad often calls my sister and she says he asks about what I’m doing and other things about me. I know that Alzheimer’s disease can make him angry and change his personality I am able to work with that but I miss him and want to spend as much time as I can with him. He belongs with his family that knows him and what he would want if he wasn’t able to express his needs. My dad also doesn’t have the cognitive ability to make these requests. He gets easily frustrated and isn’t able to complete more than one simple task at a time.
The counter offer that my lawyer and I came up with is as follows:
Here is a counter-proposal.
1. Mr. Labo and Elaine can be together
2. A third party plenary guardian will be named
3. Any POAs would not be needed so can be terminated
4. Beneficiaries on life insurance policies would be as they were before Alzheimer. Any deeds etc. would remain as they were.
My client is willing to have further discussions on this matter to seek a settlement.
I just got a letter today, August 5, 2020 stating that we to a jury trial because the lawyer supposedly representing my dad didn’t accept the offer. The jury trial is set for October 26th and 27th. So more waiting.
I’ve contacted The Alzheimer’s Association, The National Elder Abuse and financial fraud line and a lot of other places and all I get is that they are sorry that I’m going through this and I should contact Protective services, the police, etc. I explain that I have and haven’t gotten any help and they just keep saying “I’m very sorry.”
I am sorry for the length and rambling nature of this letter; I tried to keep it short but there is so much to this and still so much I left out. I have copies of my dad’s medical records from the VA and every interaction with the VA including phone calls Elaine made to the Veteran’s crisis line that would completely uncalled for; she told the Crisis line operator that my dad had a cut lip when in actuality he had an in grown whisker. Elaine declared bankruptcy a few years ago and also owe over 300,000.00 in state and federal taxes. She is not a good person, no one who would keep a sick father away from his adult children is a good person.
If there is anything you can do to help I would very much appreciate it! I want to see my dad living in a safe environment and be able to spend a little time with him before he completely forgets me.
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