I am concerned about a neighbor who suffered a stroke two weeks ago and is now in a NH. Advice?


He wants to come home now. My neighbor has no relatives in this area, so was placed under the auspicies of the State of Illinois, who assigned a guardianship for him. Not being a relative, they will not give me access to his medical or financial status. The worker assigned to his case is not communicative and does not return my calls. Talking to my neighbor in the nursing home, he seems lucid and could probably come home with the assistance of a helper. Not knowing his financial status, I don't know if he can pay for this. He is too young for Medicare. I feel he is not getting his wishes or rights fully from this guardian. I have family medical responsibilities, so I cannot assume the guardianship for him. I don't think the social worker in the nursing home has his best interests in mind. I am told his case will go before a judge in a month, or so, to determine a future course of action. There are questions about his paying his mortgage. He tells me he is up to date on payments, but I am also hearing about foreclosure proceedings. I tried to find a pro-bono lawyer for him, without success. He is currently in a bad environment for mental stimulation, which could effect his decisions for both the long and short term. I would like to know who oversees this Guardianship Advocacy Commission. Their reps are supposedly in the field most of the time and do not answer my voice mail requests. I think someone else should be looking into his situation to assure that there is no abuse or resistance to agree to his requests to come home.

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I think there's another issue here with Sher's concern for his neighbor...the kind of "reach out and touch" someone as well as the concept that the community can help older people cope in their own homes.

My father's neighborhood is wonderful; there are caring people who help with a variety of tasks. My neighborhood is not like that and is one of the reasons I don't plan to stay.

Knowing that neighbors are looking out for each other can help in creating and providing a support network. They don't have to become actually involved; my father's neighbors would in a situation such as Sher describes alert me so I could intervene. In fact one neighbor's astute observations brought both my sister and I out followed by a hospital visit which proved to be lifesaving.

They're our "ground borne early warning system."
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I can understand your concern for your neighbor. But this is not your problem. However, you can learn from his troubles by having the necessary legal documents completed. Then you would be better prepared if something similar happened to you or be diagnosed with MCI or Alzheimer's. As much as you want to help, this is not your problem. Perhaps this should become your mantra every time your mind wanders to his problems.
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1. The foreclosure: Call the county register of deeds, or better yet go there yourself. You'll need the address to his house, and preferably what's known as a Sidwell number- it's a parcel number assigned to each lot, vacant or improved.

If you can get that from the local treasurer's office, it'll be easier to search for recorded transactions on your neighbor's property. Then you can verify whether the foreclosure was resolved or not. But if he hasn't been making payments under a workout agreement, it may still be in process.

2. Ask someone at the county register of deeds office to help you search. You'll be looking for a notice of foreclosure, then perhaps a workout agreement, or reinstatement of loan notice. What you don't want to see is a notice of Sheriff's Sale, which means the property was still in default at that time and an auction was set to sell the property to the highest bidder,

If there is a deed recorded for the sheriff's sale, the property has already been sold.

These notices have to be posted, generally in a legal newspaper, so there are time lapses after posting before the sheriff's sale.

HOWEVER: if the temporary guardian said your friend has about 2 years to remedy the foreclosure action, it may be that Illinois requires a foreclosure "in equity", i.e., through litigation, as opposed to "by advertisement", which significantly shortens the time.

3. The only equity foreclosures I've worked on at law firms have been commercial ones, and this was such a long time ago that I don't recall what if any redemption periods existed.

I've just read Illinois's statute on redemption periods, which is the amount of time allowed after a sheriff's sale during which the homeowner can redeem the house, by paying the amount for which the house sold at the sheriff's sale, probably plus interest and fees. Honestly, I've never seen such a staged and complicated redemption period.

But if the redemption period has already run, your friend has no legal standing to redeem it. The house is gone, sold to the highest bidder.

4. One very good reason to explore this issue, regardless of what your friend believes, is that, if the redemption period has expired, and the mortgagee's (lender's) agent believes the house is occupied, a "notice to quit" (in other words, get out!) will be served and your friend would have to move all his possessions out by that date.

Otherwise, (in Michigan), a sheriff's deputy would come probably with a locksmith, the lock would be changed, the sheriff's deputy and his/her crew would come in and empty out the house.

At that point, your friend would lose his possessions, including any personal papers, financial records, etc. He'd lose everything; the house would be stripped of all his possessions.

5. I can't help wondering if Stephen really understands the foreclosure process. I think I would find a pro bono attorney to help you sort this out, as it would be devastating to think that he has a home to come back to and find out instead that it's been stripped and he's locked out.

6. There is a way you can intervene in the guardianship proceedings, although it's kind of iffy. The Amicus Curiae process allows interested parties to file a brief, etc. if they have a legitimate interest. The proceedings usually are corporate, appellate, such as when an organization may have an interest in a particular case either scheduled for trial or on appeal.

I honestly don't know without checking the Illinois court rules whether an individual in your position could file an Amicus brief, but if you're interested, check it out either with a pro bono attorney or ask the guardianship office if you can.

I wouldn't worry about all the legal language; you could just be straight forward and state why you want to participate in the guardianship hearings, that you're concerned for your friend, unsure he understands the legal processes taking place, believes he could live at home, and wants to ensure that his home is still available for him.

Your position could be in agreement with the guardianship, but it could also contest it if the guardian wanted to place him somewhere your friend didn't want to go. I wouldn't expect any court or any other attorneys to welcome you with open arms though. The legal community can be snobbish to "outsiders".

But if your request to participate were granted, this would allow you access to some information, as well as to plead certain issues on behalf of your friend, AS AN INTERESTED PARTY, not an attorney, if he's still in the facility and unable to attend the hearing.

7. The point of an Amicus intervention is to help your friend explain his situation, his desire to return home, what arrangements might be made at home, etc.. I.e., you act as his friend at a hearing, but you're not an attorney so that distinction would be made. You're a caring friend who wants to ensure that he's well taken care of, and are expressing his opinions for him if he's unable to attend the hearing.

As I wrote, this might be a stretch and a judge might be scornful, but a judge may also be sympathetic and spend more time trying to ascertain exactly what your friend's situation is so that the best decision can be made.

If any of this doesn't make any sense, feel free to ask questions. It can get kind of murky as one tries to muddle through the logic and proceedings of foreclosures.
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Visited Stephen today. He was again in bed, but very conversive. He sounds like he would prefer to handle things himself, which is fine with me. I did try to warn him about possible foreclosures, but he thinks he is only one month behind in his payments. Looking on the web, I did not see his house as one listed in foreclosure, but the Illinois appointed guardian says it was started last July. I will have to check again with the guardian. I think Stephen is resigned to stay in this facility, perhaps for a longer stay. I would say his tolerance level is much higher than mine. He still talks about some dizziness when standing up, so perhaps he needs more care in the short term. I just hope he is aware of his circumstance and will take the necessary chances to keep his house and recover from his illness in the shortest time possible.
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There is no age limit on Medicare, but did he pay into the system all these years? That is very important.
Avoid a reverse mortgage, because they foreclose when the borrower moves to a nursing home, and the loan is counted as income which would prevent him from getting Medicaid. He can no longer sign a loan, the Guardian is in control of his finances.
The best you can do is to visit him weekly and cheer him up.
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freqflyer: I have no reason to suspect he has dementia. Dimentia is not always resulting from a stroke. I spoke to one company that would consider a reverse mortgage if the equity remaining in his house was large enough with respect to the amount owed on the mortgage. I need to impress this on my neighbor and
get him to agree to this. He has been my neighbor for over 15 years, so I doubt he has been here all that time on some kind of visa. My immediate goal is to encourage his state guardian to expedite his Medicade application and then try to get him in a better nursing home where there is a greater atmosphere to pull him out of any depression or confusion he now is encountering.
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sherwindu, if your neighbor has dementia there is no bank/lender who would allow him to apply for a reverse mortgage. Also with dementia, the patient can put on a really good front making you think they are still pretty sharp, but once you leave the facility, the patient might not even remember you were there visiting him.

You mentioned your neighbor is from another country. Do you know how long did he work here in the States? Is he as U.S. citizen? Visa/Green Card status? Non-U.S. citizens can purchase homes here in the States, but when it comes to selling, there is an added Federal tax involved, 10% of the gross sales price from his/her proceeds. Depending on his status is whether he can use Medicare or Medicaid.

I appreciate your interest in your neighbor and you want to do what is best for him, but since you don't have Power of Attorney over his interest, all you can do is sit and watch.
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You contact Legal Aid in your state by Googling "Legal Aid" and the name of your state. You get their phone nemesis and call.

It sounds as though this gentleman may have developed vascular dementia following the stroke. With regards to the house/mortgage issue, either he is deliberately misinformed you because he doesn't want you looking into his affairs and is too polite to say that, or he doesn't remember that he was close to losing him home before he became ill. I'm not sure how a reverse mortgage would help in this situation. If he has equity in the house, shouldn't he sell it, pay off the mortgage and arrange to live somewhere he can afford? If he is even capable of living on his own.

The thing is, even if he were able to "live" alone with housekeeping and meal delivery, he would still need someone to look after bill payment, house upkeep and the like. So I don't think the idea of his trying to return home is practical in any way.
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I finally was able to talk today with the State of Illinois appointed temporary guardian. At first, he said he could not tell me anything, but in the course of our conversation, certain valuable pieces of info did emerge.

He said my neighbor had no financial resources he was able to locate. He will be trying to expidite his getting on Illinois Medicade. If he can do that, Medicade will pay his hospital and nursing home expenses for the past 3 months. Talking to my neighbor, he thinks he is ok with mortgage payments, but the guardian says he has not paid anything since last July. He has two years to rectify this before the house can be sold under foreclosure. I was wondering if he could somehow get a reverse mortgage to settle his current
and future mortgage bills. The bank holding his mortgage doesn't care if he
loses his house, so they will be less than cooperative. Not sure if my neighbor
is not being up front with me telling me he has settled these mortgage issues, or
he is mentally not aware of the situation. I am going to contact some public legal help associations, but my neighbor said he was reluctant to bring in a lawyer. Again, I'm not sure why.

From a health standpoint, I have only seen him twice while he was in bed, but I'm told he was a problem going into the wrong rooms while in his wheel chair.
I don't think that is a reason to put him in a dimensia ward. He is in a lousy nursing home now, and I asked the guardian to try and move him to a better facility, if Medicaid will pay for it. He is somewhat confused by his surroundings
and it will only get worse if he stays where he is. I had a similar experience with
my brother in a nursing home where he became disoriented and they shipped him off to psychiatric hospital just because they could not handle him. These nursing home people only want easy cases and will not extend themselves for people with special problems. By the way, I had medical authority for my brother, so they shipped him off despite my protests. They said that all it takes is two nurses to sign an order. I should have sued them. It took me three days to get my brother out of there to a decent nursing home. He was fine there.
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Sherwin, I sympathise with your dissatisfaction with the way your neighbour's care is being handled. It's a personal gripe of mine, living as I do in a heavily socialised country, that the trouble with state management of welfare, setting aside all ideology, is that is often done so badly and with such complacency.

I think Sunnygirl's caveats are important to note; and I'm afraid you might not be well placed to achieve very much. But on the bright side, at least your neighbour does have someone looking out for him - kudos to you - and I suppose, if you can find out more about the hearing, you could submit your concerns in writing in advance to the court?
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