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Mentally ill woman seeks lawyer to sue banks over her trust fund

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posted on Oct, 14 2011 @ 10:21 AM
I really wasn't sure where to put this, but I believe it is in the right forum, since it deals with banks and trust funds.

Nineteen months after a judge ruled that Michelle Cohen should be allowed to handle her own affairs, the mentally ill woman is living out of her van. She is still searching for an attorney willing to help her sue the banks that handled her trust fund, once worth half a million dollars.

Cohen suffers from schizo-affective disorder, described as an illness that affects emotion and behavior. Her situation exemplifies the tug of war that exists between letting people with mental illness live independent lives, but also trying to protect them. Problem Solver has followed her situation since she contacted The Dallas Morning News before her guardianship trial.

Cohen had difficult relationships with the trust managers at the banks. She believed that the money belonged to her and that she should be allowed to control the account. She bought a van, a home in Wisconsin and a motorcycle for a friend. She purchased DVDs and spent freely on extended-stay hotels and restaurant meals. She spent tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers to try to break the trust.

Under guardianship, a state judge would appoint someone to make decisions regarding the person’s property, medical care, living arrangements and potentially all personal and financial decisions. “It provides necessary decision-makers for people with diminished capacity and protects them from abuse. Yet it also removes fundamental rights and may increase opportunities for abuse of the very people we strive to protect,” Naomi Karp, senior strategic policy adviser of AARP, explained before Congress in September. American National never stated why it sought guardianship for Cohen, referring questions to attorney Carol Dabner of Underwood, Perkins & Ralston. Dabner has never commented outside of the courtroom and told The News this week that she had no information to share.

I am sure that there is probably a lot of information that hasn't yet been disclosed about this case. I do, however have some questions about it though.
1. If someone has set up a trust fund for someone, such as in this situation, how much power and control should the bank have over the situation?
2. Also, it states in the article that the bank never gave a reason why it sought guardianship over the account, but why kind of circumstances would require this type of action?
3. Even if the person is mentally ill, would that really substantiate the actions taken by the bank? From what I understand, there is a big difference between being mentally ill, and mentally challenged. Just because someone has a mental illness, it doesn't mean that they cannot take responsibility for their own actions.

The remaining money in the trust fund was drained by attorney fees because lawyers on both sides of the case were legally able to bill the trust fund. “They spent everything I had in trying to get me found incompetent,” Cohen said.

To me, it just goes to show the corruption in our financial institutions. I realize the lawyers also had a lot to do with it, but it is to be expected, I suppose, because one is usually responsible for paying a lawyers fee, (besides its not too surprising because they are lawyers.)

The article does say, however, that the woman did spend some of the money on a house, a car and other things, but to me that shows a certain amount of responsibility on her part, even though she ended up losing it in the end. So as I have brought this matter out, I would be interesting in hearing what others have to say about this.
edit on 14-10-2011 by Veritas1 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 14 2011 @ 10:53 AM
Banks and lawyers you have to remember that 99% of them are making the other 1% look bad

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