Guardian Stories

Going Down the Rabbit Hole

 

 

As a plenary guardian for the person and property, there is a lot to do. The question is how far to go? What is the possible net gain?
The cost of doing this is something to consider. The courts expect value for the time you spend (and time charged to the client). They also may expect you to look for unclaimed funds, but they do not want you to “waste” the ward’s time (or money) going down rabbit holes that have nothing in them.

But, how do you know if all the research and time will end up benefiting the client in the end?
We became the guardian for Mrs. T. in 2012. Her spouse had passed away in 2007.
Since her job was an admin in H.R., she was organized and a well-trained, experienced administrator, it would be reasonable to assume that she had filed for his life insurance claims years before, right?

 

Nope, not only that but for over those 5 years since his death, she had been continuing to have his life insurance premiums deducted from her federal pension, costing her thousands.

 

Because we did all the research, going back 5 years, we were able to file for his life insurance claim and get the reimbursement of all those premiums as well. Thousands of dollars gained…this time.

 

What Makes a Dog a Legal Companion or Emotional Support Dog?

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Image Source: swong95765

If you were to go online and look for certification for your dog as a companion or emotional support animal you would find a number of websites that offer certificates, patches, ID tags, etc. for a fee, but is it worth spending $69.95 to get your dog certified?  Many of these websites lead you to believe that with their certification, you will be able to take your dog anywhere, including airplanes and government buildings, but let’s look at the facts.

 

By federal regulation, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  These tasks need to be specific to the individual’s disability; such as a guide dog for a visually impaired individual or a medical alert dog for someone with seizures or diabetes.  Service dogs do not have to be obtained through a service dog organization and registration of a service dog is not mandated by federal law.  The law does not require a service dog to wear any identifying vest or ID.  The law does specifically exclude dogs whose sole function is to provide emotional support.  State laws may allow for a broader definition; both in the type of animals that qualify and the service they offer, so you may want to refer to your state’s statute for clarification.

 

When a service dog is in public, a business owner has the right to ask the disabled individual (or someone accompanying them) what tasks the service dog performs.  It is very important that the individual is able to name tasks that relate to their disability or the business owner can deny access to the service animal.  A business cannot deny access due to fear of dogs or allergies.  This includes work and school.

 

When a service dog is in public they must be under the control of their handler at all times.  It is preferred that a service animal have a harness, leash or tether but they can be loose if using these items limits the animals ability to safely and effectively perform the tasks it has been trained to do.  In that case the handler must be able to maintain control of the animal through verbal commands and/or gestures.  If a service animal is considered out of control, a business has the right to ask that the animal be removed from the premises; but the individual has to be allowed to finish their business (without the presence of the service animal).

 

So how can an emotional support or companion dog be a legal service animal with all the protections that come with the title?  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, one acceptable category of service dog is a psychiatric service dog.  By definition a psychiatric service dog aids individuals with cognitive, psychiatric, or neurological disabilities.  This opens the door for someone with PTSD or another severe emotional condition to qualify, if their physician can document an emotional condition that rises to the standard of a psychiatric diagnosis or the condition effects cognitive functioning.

 

Despite the exclusion of emotional support dogs in public, some airlines will allow an emotional support animal to fly with an individual if their primary care physician provides appropriate documentation.

 

Warning:  Some folks just put a vest on a dog and fake it. That may work, or it may fail.  There have been recent discussion with law makers for this to be a punishable offense.

 

Sources: www.thecenterforindependence.org; www.ada.gov; www.servicedogcentral.orgwww.nsarco.com and Florida Statutes 413.08