Guardianship and Trusts Corp. provides court-ordered conservator services for individuals with disabilities in Davidson County or in one of eight nearby counties in middle Tennessee. The Court appoints GTC to serve as guardian or conservator of the person, the person’s property, or both, after determining through a hearing that the person requires assistance due to disabilities of age or other vulnerabilities. GTC’s role is to assess and coordinate living arrangements, health care, insurance, finances, and legal representation if necessary. The goal is to assist the client in managing his or her affairs in the way that he or she would if able, maintaining the person in the least restrictive setting while maximizing the person’s financial resources.
Accomplishments for 2015:
GTC became the court-appointed conservator for six individuals in 2015. Adult Protective Services (APS) had identified three of them as requiring an emergency conservator appointment due to abuse, exploitation or neglect. These individuals all required immediate and intensive intervention, and all three have improved significantly since coming under our care:
Stabilized B.C., a 78 year-old man with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, had been hospitalized for falls several times when APS stepped in to learn that two of B.C.’s siblings made him sign a quitclaim deed giving them his home. They moved in, sold his furnishings and placed him in a travel trailer. With GTC as conservator, the warranty deed was voided and the house sold. Now B.C. is stabilized in a nursing home where his blood sugar is monitored and he does not have problems falling.
A.S. is a 99 year-old woman with dementia whose finances were being handled by a longtime friend. When APS got a tip that the friend was misusing the funds, an investigation revealed thousands of dollars’ worth of questionable expenditures in addition to a generous salary the friend paid herself. With A.S. under GTC conservatorship, we identified the improper expenditures and are pursuing recovery of the funds. The “friend” is now in the process of selling her house in order to repay the misappropriated funds, and meanwhile A.S. has improved her nutritional intake.
APS called for an emergency hearing and asked us to serve 54 year-old M.M., who was about to be released from psychiatric hospitalization. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, M.M. had been living in an isolated, rustic cabin in rural Stewart County, with her finances managed by a family friend in Nashville who never saw her. Concerned neighbors reported that M.M. could be found walking naked around the area, looking for scraps in unattended dog food bowls. Now M.M. lives in a group residence for women where she receives her medications regularly, eats consistently, and has opportunities for social interaction. When the sale of her property is final, M.M. will move to an adult residential facility with multiple levels of care located closer to her home county so that her neighbors can continue to visit with her.
Administrative accomplishments in 2015 include launching a website (www.gtctn.org). This site is important for our planned promotion of a relatively new service, the pooled trust account, intended to boost the revenue stream needed to allow us to serve indigent clients who do not have the funds to pay for our services.
Goals for 2016:
1) Continue to accept Adult Protective Services emergency requests for conservator services
2) Raise all staff to the level of Certified National Guardian
3) Update the accounting software used to track client accounts
4) Increase participation in our new Pooled Trust
The Executive, Clinical Issues, Trusts, Personnel, & Development Committees work to give our staff resources and tools that enable them to provide the critical services our clients need, while helping raise the funds necessary to continue serving the community. GTC has grown each year due to the staff’s increasing productivity, aggressive solicitation of new sources of funding, and growing caseloads. Our revenue stream includes trust management fees and court-approved conservatorship fees collected from self-paying clients. GTC seeks to support indigent client services by soliciting funds from multiple sources including private gifts, corporate donations, foundation grants, the United Way, and other giving campaigns. GTC’s revenues have consistently increased over the years. The talents of our diverse staff and the contributions of our volunteer board yield a competitive advantage for continued financial stability in the future. GTC’s guardian/conservator program provides a safety net for those in our community who may have very limited resources but require significant service and care. GTC’s Supplemental Needs trust program provides financial management and investment services to individuals who wish to protect their finances and direct their expenditures accordingly. GTC has excelled in providing these services through active participation of the volunteer board and the ever-increasing skills and expertise of our staff. With continued education, cross-training, and on-the-job experience, GTC staff members provide top-notch service for the financial, medical, social, and legal needs of our clients.
The Court determines that an individual requires assistance with personal, medical, and financial decisions, and appoints Guardianship and Trusts Corp. as conservator of that person and his or her property. This person may have experienced medical or physical trauma, abuse, or neglect; may have no family members; and may have been financially victimized as well. Adult Protective Services regularly looks to GTC for help with individuals who have been maltreated and have nowhere else to turn. The court approves, knowing GTC has extensive experience serving people who have suffered neglect and/or abuse.
Upon appointment as
conservator, GTC has several immediate goals: Stabilize the person's
environment and eliminate unnecessary challenges raised by malnutrition, lack
of care, lack of social stimulation, lack of medication management and/or lack
of fiduciary oversight. Improve the person's health and psychological
well-being through coordination of appropriate medical, social and financial
decisions. Increase the person's longevity and quality of life as stressors
decline following implementation of an appropriate care plan. Conserve the
person's financial resources through maximization of public benefits, close
budgetary oversight and up-to-date understanding of Social Security,
Disability, Medicare, Medicaid and other relevant issues in elder care.
Conservatorship services promote safety, improved health, and ultimately improved longevity, as many unnecessary stressors are eliminated and care is managed properly. Signs of this improvement include improved nutritional intake and corresponding weight gain or loss, and measurable improvement on the Mini Mental State Examination.
Conservatorship services also maximize financial resources, ensuring that benefits and insurance are in place and that bills are paid on time, and that arrangements are in place for any emergency or eventuality. For clients who have been financially exploited, we pursue recovery of all misappropriated funds.
B.C., a 78 year-old man with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, signed a quitclaim deed giving his home away to his siblings. They moved in, sold his furnishings and placed him in a travel trailer. GTC had the warranty deed voided and sold the house. Now B.C. is stabilized in a nursing home where his blood sugar is monitored and he does not have problems falling.
A.S. is a 99 year-old woman with dementia who lost more than $70,000 after giving power of attorney to a longtime friend. GTC identified the improper expenditures and is recovering the funds with the court’s oversight. A.S. has meanwhile improved her nutritional intake.
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, 54 year-old M.M. was living in an isolated, rustic cabin in a rural county, her finances managed by a family friend in Nashville who never saw her. Concerned neighbors repeatedly found M.M. walking naked around the area, looking for scraps in unattended dog food bowls. Now M.M. lives in a group residence for women where she receives her medications regularly, eats consistently, and has opportunities for social interaction.
We serve as fiduciary over trusts set up for the benefit of persons with mental and/or physical disabilities. These can be Trusts Under Will or Living Trusts, most of which are Special or Supplemental Needs Trusts. We also offer a Pooled Trust, which have lower costs than separately managed trusts but offer the same benefits, while combining funds for investments to benefit all trust participants. Proper management of the trust ensures that the beneficiary does not lose access to any applicable means-tested government benefits like SSI or state Medicaid. GTC has more than thirty years' experience administering trusts under these complicated benefits programs.
GTC’s operations are closely supervised by an involved Board of Directors who meet formally and informally and regularly consult with staff between meetings. In most instances, GTC serves as guardian and fiduciary by court appointment and is subject to regular reporting and oversight requirements of the courts. As a trust company with a Certificate of Authority from the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, GTC is also subject to the regulatory oversight of the Department. GTC must also report regularly on its handling of client funds to agencies such as the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration. GTC is the only non-profit organization in middle Tennessee offering free services to indigent clients.
Where most trust management services are for-profit and can afford to turn down all but the wealthiest clients, GTC has instituted a "Self-Settled Pooled Trust" to hold funds for Supplemental Needs for qualifying individuals with as little as $2,500 to invest. By pooling the funds for investment, GTC enables the clients to receive professional investment management services at a fraction of their usual cost-- meanwhile ensuring through careful disbursement procedures that the client does not lose access to means-tested benefits.
Despite a proven record of success, GTC lacks the resources to market its services to clients who can afford to pay the professional fees that keep GTC operating to serve indigent and paying clients alike. We are taking a first step towards marketing by creating a website in-house and using a no-frills hosting service provider. We hope to expand our web presence over the next year. At the same time, our accounting software is not designed for shared investment accounts, and the spreadsheet system we are currently using will not be tenable if we are able to attract significantly more investors to the pooled fund, as we hope to do.
GTC’s operations are
closely supervised by an involved Board of Directors who meet formally and
informally and regularly consult with staff between meetings. In most
instances, GTC serves as fiduciary by court appointment and is subject to
regular reporting and oversight requirements of the courts. As a trust company,
GTC holds a Certificate of Banking Authority from the Tennessee Department of
Financial Institutions, which conducts regular audits as part of its regulatory
oversight. GTC must also report regularly on its handling of client funds to
agencies such as the Veterans Administration and the Social Security
Administration. Beyond fiduciary oversight and responsibility, GTC seeks
to cultivate board members with experience in fundraising--particularly in
major individual gifts as well as foundation grants--to provide the leadership
needed to bring existing donors to new levels of giving while overseeing efforts
to increase the donor base.
Ms. Mitchell has been with GTC since 1998, previously serving as Associate Executive Director and Director of Social Service until she became Executive Director in 2008. Prior to joining GTC, she was employed by the Mental Health Cooperative of Nashville. Ms. Mitchell earned her Master of Science degree in Public Service Management at Cumberland University. Prior to that, she earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University. Ms. Mitchell has been a National Certified Guardian with the Center for Guardianship Certification since 1999.
GTC’s operations are closely supervised by an involved Board of Directors who meet formally and informally and regularly consult with staff between meetings. In most instances, GTC serves as fiduciary by court appointment and is subject to regular reporting and oversight requirements of the courts. As a trust company with its Certificate of Authority from the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, GTC is subject to the regulatory oversight of the Department. GTC must also report regularly on its handling of client funds to federal agencies such as the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration. Despite a proven record of success, GTC lacks the human and financial resources to market its services to clients who can afford to pay the professional fees that keep GTC operating to serve indigent and paying clients alike.
GTC seeks to increase revenues by offering a key service: management of funds below the threshold of desirability for banks and other trust service entities. Where most trust management services are for-profit and can afford to turn down all but the wealthiest clients, GTC offers a "Self-Settled Pooled Trust" service for qualifying individuals whose funds may not be significant enough to be accepted by such trustees. By pooling these funds, GTC enables clients with more limited resources to receive professional trust management services at a fraction of the usual cost for such services. The Pooled Trust provides a great opportunity to bring in new clients, but we are challenged to develop this program so that it can add to the revenue stream and thereby enable GTC to accept additional indigent wards of the court. There has been little in the way of marketing for this service, and since GTC lacks the personnel and funds to develop a website—let alone funds to place advertisements and personnel to present the concept to target audiences—the opportunity to join the pooled trust remains unknown to most of the target market population.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
GTC receives income from diverse sources including individual donations, foundation and corporate grants, and the United Way campaign. Fees for conservatorship services, most of which are subject to court approval, account for the majority of revenues; trust fees are the other source of service-generated revenue. Due to extensive reporting and oversight requirements, as well as the necessity of frequent court appearances, the services we provide unavoidably involve administrative costs. Nevertheless, fees charged to those who can afford them remain modest by community standards. The flexibility afforded by a small staff and active volunteer board have thus far allowed GTC to maintain a small reserve. Yearly financial results shown on the audit and 990 are calculated according to the accrual, rather than the cash accounting method. Work performed for fee-paying clients but not collected--or in many cases, not even billed--at the close of the fiscal year are calculated in accrual income for the year as receivables. In some cases, payment on a receivable is not expected for some months or even years. Profit or loss in any given year is in large part a function of the increase or decrease in receivables; consequently, results shown on the audit and 990 do not give an accurate picture of actual cash profits and losses for that year. The GTC Board relies almost entirely on the cash accounting method in making and tracking its budget because it accurately reflects actual results. Operating budget figures shown are calculated according to the cash method and do not necessarily reflect activity in reserve and grant accounts.
“I’ve never shared my story with anybody.” -- The first step toward recovery can be the most difficult. The ability to engage in productive activities, to find relationships with other people fulfilling, and to adapt to change and cope with adversity are each vital to enjoying a happy and healthy life. But each of these facilities can be significantly impaired by mental health disorders. A mental health diagnosis should not define who a person is, or what a person can achieve through treatment and support. Middle Tennessee nonprofit organizations are ready to help make that first step toward good health a little easier.
Copyright © 2014 The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Nashville, TN 37215