November 18, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Within Discretion to Impose Surcharge in Protective Proceeding

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Becker v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. on Thursday, August 24, 2017.

Aaron Becker was the conservator on an account set up for his daughter after she was the beneficiary of settlement funds from a personal injury claim. The trial court’s order to set up the restricted account specified that “no funds could be withdrawn from the account except by ‘separate certified order of this court.'” However, due to a “coding error,” Wells Fargo failed to set up the account as a restricted account. The account balance was $56,642.46 as reported in August 2013. Wells Fargo allowed Becker to make unauthorized withdrawals until the balance was negative, then closed the account.

The trial court issued an order to show cause in August 2016 to both Wells Fargo and Becker regarding the withdrawn funds. At the show cause hearing, Becker testified that he used the funds for his personal expenses, as well as to pay rent, groceries, utilities, sports activities expenses, and other expenses for the beneficiary. The court ordered Becker to file an accounting of how the funds were used from August 2013 until the account was closed. He agreed to do so, but never filed the accounting.

The court ordered Becker and Wells Fargo to restore to the account the last amount reported and found them jointly and severally liable for breach of fiduciary duty. The court ordered Wells Fargo to restore $56,642.46 to a new restricted account. 

Wells Fargo appealed, arguing the court should have apportioned liability per C.R.S. § 13-21-111.5. Wells Fargo also requested a hearing to determine the amount of the funds used to benefit the protected person so as not to afford her a double recovery. The trial court denied Wells Fargo’s motion.

On appeal, the court of appeals disagreed with Wells Fargo that C.R.S. § 13-21-111.5 applied, ruling instead that the court properly determined that it was a surcharge action under C.R.S. §§ 15-10-501 to -504. The court noted that the trial court had authority to impose a surcharge on Wells Fargo for failing to correct its error. The court of appeals agreed with Wells Fargo, however, that requiring the bank to restore the full amount of the settlement funds could potentially result in an impermissible double recovery to the protected person, and remanded for a determination of how the conservatorship funds were spent.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Probate Court Lacked Authority to Order “Chemical Castration”

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of C.J.R. on Thursday, September 8, 2016.

Probate Court Authority—Chemical Castration—Medina Factors.

C.J.R. is a long-term patient at a state hospital, where he is treated for a form of psychosis. He has also engaged in “sexually inappropriate behavior” for some time. C.J.R. was treated for years with antipsychotic drugs. After a change in his drug therapy, his sexually inappropriate behavior worsened. As a result, a psychiatrist prescribed Depo-Provera by injection every 90 days. The use of Depo-Provera for this purpose is commonly called chemical castration. C.J.R. refused to take the drug voluntarily, and the People sought authorization from the Denver Probate Court to administer it involuntarily. The probate court authorized the involuntary administration of Depo-Provera and use of a nasogastric tube to administer other drugs. C.J.R. appealed.

In People v. Medina, the Colorado Supreme Court formulated a four-factor test that the People must satisfy before a court may order a patient to be forcibly medicated. Medina dealt with antipsychotic drugs. The court of appeals held that it does not apply to a request to involuntarily administer the synthetic equivalent of progesterone as part of the treatment for a mentally ill male patient at a state hospital for the express purpose of controlling his sexually inappropriate behavior.

In addition, the court found that even if the Medina test were applicable here, the People did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the requirements of Medina were established because (1) there was not record support that there were no less intrusive alternative treatments available, and (2) C.J.R.’s need for treatment with medication was not sufficiently compelling to override “any bona fide and legitimate interest of the patient in refusing treatment.”

The part of the probate court’s order authorizing involuntary administration of Depo-Provera was reversed. That part of the order authorizing the use of a nasogastric tube to administer other medications was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Evidence Insufficient to Support Involuntary Administration of Medication

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of R.K.L. on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Involuntary Administration of Medication—Due Process—Clear and Convincing Evidence.

On request of the People, R.K.L., a/k/a A.J.J., was found to be mentally ill and a danger to others and gravely disabled, and was certified to Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan for short-term treatment for a period not to exceed three months. The probate court also authorized involuntary administration for 11 requested antipsychotic medications. Before the expiration of that order, the People filed a notice extending the certification for treatment for an additional three months and a motion to extend the involuntary medication order. The probate court, following a hearing, extended the certification for short-term treatment and granted the motion for continued involuntary administration authority for the requested medications.

A.J.J. appealed both orders. He conceded that the People had established by clear and convincing evidence that he has a mental illness and that he has not voluntarily accepted treatment. He argued that the court erred in finding that the People proved by clear and convincing evidence that he is a danger to others or gravely disabled. The Court of Appeals held that the probate court’s finding that A.J.J. is a danger to others was supported by evidence in the record. Alternatively, the Court found sufficient evidence in the record to support the probate court’s findings by clear and convincing evidence that A.J.J was gravely disabled as a result of his mental illness. Sufficient evidence supports the probate court’s orders upholding the certification and extended certification of A.J.J. for short-term treatment.

To involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication without violating a patient’s due process rights, all four elements set forth in People v. Medina, 705 P.2d 961, 973 (Colo. 1985), must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. The Court found that the evidence did not support the probate court’s findings as to two of these elements regarding involuntary administration of 10 of the medications, but the evidence was sufficient to support the administration of one medication. The Court agreed with A.J.J. that the evidence did not support the court’s findings that (1) the People had established by clear and convincing evidence that there was no less intrusive alternative than administering the 10 antipsychotics and (2) A.J.J.’s need for treatment with the 10 antipsychotic medications overrode his bona fide and legitimate interest in refusing this treatment.

The orders were reversed to the extent that they authorized involuntary administration of 10 antipsychotics and affirmed in all other respects.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Not Required to Order Accounting at Request of Interested Person

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Sidman v. Sidman on Thursday, March 24, 2016.

Legal Guardian—Motion for Accounting—Discretion.

In 2002 Michael and Renee Sidman were appointed as legal guardians for their nephew, who was born in 1999. The parents paid child support and filed a motion for an accounting. The trial court denied the motion, and the parents appealed.

The guardians filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that (1) the order denying the motion for an accounting was not a final, appealable order because a motion to modify child support was pending and the order did not resolve all pending matters, and (2) the court should have followed the law of the case and not reached the merits of the motion, based on its two previous orders denying similar requests for accountings. Even if the order was not final at the time the appeal was filed, the jurisdictional defect was cured when the motion to modify child support was resolved in November 2014. Furthermore, the trial court was not compelled by the law of the case to refrain from considering the parents’ motion; the decision was a matter in the court’s discretion.

The parents contended on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their motion for accounting. The Court of Appeals determined that CRS § 15-14-207(2)(e) did not require the court to order the guardians to provide an accounting. Instead, the parents’ motion triggered the court’s duty to exercise its discretion as to whether to order an accounting and the extent of any such accounting. The court properly exercised its discretion.

The order was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Medical Evidence of Competency Not Required Under Conservatorship Statute

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In the Interest of Neher v. Neher on Thursday, July 30, 2015.

Special Conservator—Medical Expert—Stipulation—Witness Disclosure—Evidence.

After receiving several unsolicited e-mails asking for money, Galen Neher (father) sent almost $500,000 to anonymous offshore bank accounts. Suspecting fraud, Christopher Neher, his son, petitioned the court to appoint a special conservator over father’s financial affairs. Although there was no medical evidence to support the petition, the court appointed a conservator to oversee father’s financial affairs.

On appeal, father contended that the conservatorship statute requires medical evidence before a court can properly make a determination of whether an individual is impaired. Because the current statute does not include such a requirement and the prior statute was amended to remove language that might have suggested it, father’s argument was rejected.

Father also argued that the trial court committed reversible error by denying his motion to enforce an oral stipulation whereby father would retake control of his financial affairs but would be monitored by an accounting firm for a year. The parties later disagreed over the terms to be included in a written stipulation. Even assuming that the court should have found the oral stipulation enforceable, the court still proceeded consistent with that stipulation by holding a hearing on whether to make the conservatorship permanent. Therefore, the court did not err in denying father’s motion.

Father further contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion for a new trial. The court did not deny father a fair trial when it stopped the proceedings and directed counsel into chambers for discussion without the parties present. Further, his son’s late disclosure of an expert witness did not require reversal because father’s counsel failed to request a continuance. Finally, his son presented clear and convincing evidence that father was unable to manage property and business affairs. The orders appointing a permanent conservator over father’s estate and denying his motion for a new trial were affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Status as VA Designated Payee Does Not Confer Priority for Appointment as Conservator

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Estate of Runyon on Wednesday, December 31, 2014.

Appointment of Uniform Veterans’ Guardianship Act Guardian—Appointment of Guardian by Incapacitated Person.

Gladys Runyon (mother) was the authorized payee for Sidney Runyon’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits until August 2011, when Elizabeth Knight (sister) became the payee. In February 2012, the VA designated Colorado State Bank and Trust (Bank) as payee.

The Bank petitioned for appointment as Runyon’s guardian under the Uniform Veterans’ Guardianship Act (UVGA). It also petitioned to have Jeanette Goodwin appointed as Runyon’s guardian under the Colorado Probate Code. The Denver Probate Court concluded that the Bank’s petitions were filed in the wrong venue but appointed Goodwin as emergency guardian through August 2012.

Ten months after the expiration of the emergency guardianship, mother and sister sought appointment as co-guardians and conservators in Arapahoe County. Runyon advised the court-appointed visitor that he didn’t want mother and sister appointed. The court appointed counsel for Runyon.

The Bank then entered an appearance and sought appointment as conservator and UVGA guardian, and nominated Goodwin as guardian. At the hearing, Runyon’s attorney advised the court of Runyon’s preferences to appoint the Bank and Goodwin as conservator and guardian, and the court granted the appointments.

On appeal, mother and sister argued that the trial court erred because (1) their purported status as designated payees for Runyon’s VA and Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits entitled them to be appointed, and (2) the court should not have given effect to Runyon’s preferences. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the first point and remanded for further proceedings on the second.

The appointment of a guardian lies within the sound discretion of the probate court. A respondent’s nomination of a guardian creates a priority for that nominee, but only if the respondent had “sufficient capacity to express a preference” at the time of the nomination. The respondent may make an oral nomination at an appointment hearing. There is a similar scheme for appointment of conservators and UVGA guardians.

Here, mother and sister had no priority claim to be a guardian or conservator, and being appointed as designated payees of Runyon’s SSA and VA benefits did not confer any such priority claim on them. By nominating the Bank and Goodwin at the hearing, Runyon conferred on them a priority for appointment. However, the record did not reflect whether the trial court found that Runyon had sufficient capacity to express a preference at the time of the nomination. The Court remanded for such a determination, but noted that a finding that a respondent is an “incapacitated person” under the statute does not necessarily mean that the respondent lacks sufficient capacity to express a preference as to a guardian or conservator.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Involuntary Medication Administration in Non-Emergency Situation Requires Clear and Convincing Evidence that Deterioration Likely

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of Marquardt on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Involuntary Administration of Antipsychotic.

Larry Marquardt was committed to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) after having been found not guilty by reason of insanity in a criminal case. Since arriving at CMHIP, he was voluntarily taking ten milligrams of Saphris, an antipsychotic medication, once a day. The People petitioned the court to slowly increase the dosage to 20 milligrams per day, because he refused to voluntarily do so and his psychiatrist felt 10 milligrams was ineffective.

After a hearing, the court ordered the dosage could be increased over his objection. On appeal, Marquardt argued that the trial court erred in applying the elements established in People v. Medina, 705 P.2d 961 (Colo. 1985),to the facts of this case.

As a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeals had to decide whether Medina was applicable to a nonemergency request to increase antipsychotic medication dosage over a patient’s objection. It concluded it was applicable; however, the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard in its decision.

The trial court was required, pursuant to Medina, to find by clear and convincing evidence a number of factors, one of which was whether, absent the increased dosage, Marquardt would suffer significant and likely long-term deterioration to his mental health. Although the evidence supported the trial court’s finding that Marquardt was unlikely to improve at the current dosage, that was not the correct standard and there was not clear and convincing evidence that, absent the increased dosage, he would suffer a significant and likely long-term deterioration to his mental health. The order was reversed.

Summary and full case available here.

Denver Probate Court No Longer Accepting Faxes as of September 2012

As of September 1, 2012, faxes will no longer be accepted in the Denver Probate Court without permission of the Judge.

Pro se litigants without an attorney may file in paper format with the court. Attorneys in probate cases should use LexisNexis File and Serve to submit filings to the Court. Attorneys in mental health cases should submit filings via email at DenverProbateMH@judicial.state.co.us.

Further details about this change are contained in Presiding Judge Order 12-02: Order Regarding Fax Filings in the Denver Probate Court.

Colorado State Judicial Branch Revises Several Probate Forms

This is Part 1 of 4 posts about new forms from State Judicial. Check back soon for more updates.

The Colorado State Judicial Branch issued 15 revised forms in July 2012 for probate proceedings, including instructions and forms regarding guardianships and conservatorships, as well as publication and notice forms. Practitioners should begin using the new forms immediately.

These forms were amended by the Colorado Supreme Court on June 29, 2012, and outlined as Rule Change 2012(11).

Most forms are available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word formats; many are also available as Word and Excel templates. Download the new forms from State Judicial’s individual forms pages, or below.

Probate

  • JDF 714 – “Affidavit Regarding Due Diligence and Proof of Publication” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 716 – “Notice of Hearing By Publication” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 785 – “Final Order Accepting Guardianship/Conservatorship in Colorado From Sending State” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 807 – “Notice of Hearing to Respondent (Adult or Minor)” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 821 – “Affidavit of Acceptance of Appointment By Written Instrument as Guardian for Minor” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 823 – “Instructions for Appointment of Guardian – Minor” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 840 – “Instructions for Appointment of Guardian – Adult” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 844 – “Notice of Appointment of Emergency Guardian and Notice of Right to Hearing” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 860 – “Instructions for Appointment of Conservator – Minor” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 875 – “Instructions for Appointment of Conservator – Adult” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 882 – “Conservator’s Inventory with Financial Plan and Motion for Approval” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 887 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Terminate Conservatorship” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 945 – “Notice of Disallowance of Claims” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 949 – “Notice of Hearing to Interested Persons and Owners By Inheritance” (revised 7/12)
  • JDF 950 – “Notice of Hearing By Publication to Interested Persons and Owners By Inheritance” (revised 7/12)

For a complete list of probate forms from State Judicial, click here.

Registration Now Open for Denver Senior Law Day and 2012 Senior Law Handbook Available Online

The 2012 Senior Law Handbook is now online! Designed to provide aging adults and their caregivers and families with useful information on subjects relevant to their legal concerns, it is only possible with the generous donation of time and intellect by our volunteer authors. CBA-CLE would like to thank all of the authors for their contributions and willingness to share their expertise with Colorado’s older adults. The 2012 Handbook includes 33 chapters on a variety  of topics ranging from Social Security Benefits to What Seniors Need to Know About Facebook.

You can review and download individual chapters by clicking here.

And, you’ll receive a free copy of the handbook when you attend Senior Law Day in Denver on July 28, 2012. Registration is now open for this annual educational seminar, which presents programs specifically designed for seniors in the Colorado community. This seminar will provide attendees with important and useful information on many issues facing our growing senior citizen population.

If you are a senior, an adult child with an aging parent, or a caregiver, this is one day you cannot afford to miss. Mark your calendar today for this excellent and informative event and click here to register now!

State Judicial Revises Probate, Adoption, and Small Claims Forms and Instructions

The Colorado State Judicial Branch has issued several revised forms and instructions over the past month. Updates were made in the areas of adoption, probate, and small claims, as well as filing fees. Practitioners should begin using the new forms immediately.

Most forms are available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word formats; many are also available as Word and Excel templates. Download the new forms from State Judicial’s individual forms pages, or below.

Adoption

  • JDF 498“Instructions for Kinship Adoption” (revised 4/12)

Filing Fees

  • Guide“Guide for Determination of Indigency” (revised 4/12)

Probate

  • JDF 906 – “Instructions for Probate With a Will” (revised 4/12)
  • JDF 907 – “Instructions for Probate Without a Will” (revised 4/12)
  • JDF 805 – “Acceptance of Office – Guardianships and Conservatorships” (revised 4/12)

Small Claims

  • JDF 252a – “Motion and Order for Interrogatories – Short Form” (revised 4/12)
  • JDF 252b“Motion and Order for Interrogatories – Long Form” (revised 4/12)

Colorado State Judicial Revises Many JDF Instructions and Forms in March

As part of its continuing efforts to keep JDF forms up-to-date, the Colorado State Judicial Branch revised several instructions and a few forms in March. Practitioners should begin using the new forms and instructions immediately.

All forms are available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word formats. Download the new forms from State Judicial’s individual forms pages or below.

Adoption

  • JDF 495 – “Instructions for Second Parent Adoption” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 497 – “Instructions for Validation of Foreign Adoption” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 498 – “Instructions for Kinship Adoption” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 499 – “Instructions for Custodial Adoption” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 500 – “Instructions for Stepparent Adoption” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 506 – “Notice of Adoption Proceeding and Summons to Respond” (revised 3/12)

Appeals

  • JDF 126 – “Instructions to File a County Court Civil or Small Claims Appeal” (revised 3/12)

County Civil / District Civil

  • JDF 86  – “Instructions for Issuing a Subpoena in Support of an Action Outside the State of Colorado” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 96 – “Instructions for Filing an Answer and/or Counterclaim in County Court” (Money Demand) (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 100 – “Instructions for Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) / Evictions” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 110 – “Instructions for County Court Civil Cases (Money Demand)” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 112 – “Instructions for Reviving a Judgment” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 115 – “Instructions for Replevin” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 122 – “Instructions for Issuance of Contempt Citation” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 137 – “Instructions for Filing a Foreign Judgment” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 385  – “Instructions for Filing a Change of Name to Obtain Identity-Related Documents” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 420 – “Instructions for Filing for a Change of Name (Minor)” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 432 – “Instructions for Filing a Change of Name (Adult)” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 605 – “Instructions for Appealing Property Tax Assessments with the District Court” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 611 – “Instructions to Seal Criminal Conviction Records” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 620 – “Instructions for Filing a Response to a Rule 120 Notice” (revised 3/12)

Criminal

  • JDF 323 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Underage Alcohol Conviction” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 385 – “Instructions for Filing a Change of Name to Obtain Identity-Related Documents” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 416 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Arrest and Criminal Records” (revised 3/12)

Domestic

  • JDF 1215 – “Evaluation of a Foreign Decree, Foreign Custody-Determination, and Foreign Support Order” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 1220 – “Instructions to Register a Foreign Decree” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 1800 – “Instructions/Options to Enforce Orders” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 1801 – “Instructions for Completing an Income Assignment Based on Child Support and/or Maintenance Orders” (revised 3/12)

Juvenile

  • JDF 323 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Underage Alcohol Conviction” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 385 – “Instructions for Filing a Change of Name to Obtain Identity-Related Documents” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 476 – “Instructions to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration for a Colorado and Non-Colorado Juvenile Adjudication or Disposition” (revised 3/12)

Paternity

  • JDF 1500  – “Instructions to Establish Paternity” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 1502 – “Summons in Paternity” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 1513 – “Instructions to Disclaim Paternity” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 1515 – “Summons to Disclaim Paternity” (revised 3/12)

Probate

  • JDF 782 – “Instructions to File Petition to Accept Adult Guardianship and/or Conservatorship in Colorado From Sending State” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 786 – “Instructions to File Petition to Transfer Adult Guardianship and/or Conservatorship From Colorado to Receiving State” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 820 – “Instructions for Appointment of Guardian for Minor by Will or Other Signed Writing” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 823 – “Instructions for Appointment of a Guardian – Minor” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 840 – “Instructions for Appointment of a Guardian – Adult” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 860 – “Instructions for Appointment of a Conservator – Minor” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 875 – “Instructions for Appointment of a Conservator – Adult” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 887 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Terminate Conservatorship” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 906 – “Instructions for Probate With a Will” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 907 – “Instructions for Probate Without a Will” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 957 – “Instructions for Closing an Estate Formally” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 958 – “Instructions for Closing a Small Estate Informally” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 959 – “Instructions for Closing an Estate Informally” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 989 – “Instructions for Re-Opening an Estate” (revised 3/12)

Protection Orders

  • JDF 395 – “Instructions for Restrained Person – Motion to Modify/Dismiss Protection Order” (revised 3/12)
  • JDF 400 – “Instructions for Obtaining a Civil Protection Order” (revised 3/12)

Small Claims

  • JDF 248 – “Instructions for Filing a Small Claims Case” (revised 3/12)