What To Do When the Court Engages in Elder Abuse?

The Present Situation

Never – in my worst nightmares – did I ever imagine that at this point in my life I would be dealing with issues concerning the foreclosure of my home that I have owned for 35 years. And it is all because of a “mistake” that was made by Thomas Walsh, a Rockland County Surrogate Court judge. The question as to whether it was intentional or not remains to be answered.

Norm Shaifer
Norm Shaifer

To introduce myself, my name is Norman Shaifer. I am an 84-year-old veteran of the Korean War, who went on to become a lifelong journalist.

I have to carry a pocket computer drive with me because it has an MRI scan of my brain. In the event I fall and have to be taken to a hospital, my medical information is readily available.  To set the record straight, I am classified as totally disabled.

The Historical Picture

After Dr. C.A. Tripp, a well-known clinical psychologist, died in 2003, I was the executor for his estate. A controversial researcher, Tripp worked with Alfred Kinsey studying sexuality during the 1940s and 50s. This was well before the acronym LGBT came into common usage.

Following the brain surgery, I had to resign as executor. I explained this to Judge Walsh, and three times he assured me that he would seal this record. Unfortunately, there were not any witnesses in the room at the time.

I believe the hostility of the judge resulted in his later claim that the comments about my concussion were not recorded. The judge turned it over to a lawyer who took over the estate.  The same person had originally endorsed his candidacy to run in the election as a judge.

This attorney – once he had the legal power – emptied the estate of its funds. Fortunately, the personal research papers of Dr. Tripp are available to scholars at the New York Public Library.

The Next Step

I have every intention of pursuing this matter until it is satisfactorily resolved.

I have already appeared before several organizations of elderly people, including the Office of the Aging in Rockland County. I plan to send information on this same subject to all of the country Offices of the Aging in New York state.

Unfortunately, New York politics has a long history of corruption.

As an example, Dean Skelos, Senate Leader and Sheldon Silvers, Assembly Speaker, were indicted and found guilty of corruption. Dozens of other members of the New York state government have been found guilty on similar charges.

 The Intended Outcome

I hope that my experience will serve as a warning to older people. Those — who as a favor to a friend  — agree to act as the executor/executrix of the will. Once there is some money involved greed and corruption may take over and other elderly people will find themselves in situations similar to mine.

Norm's home of 35 years that he stands to lose.
Norm’s home of 35 years that he stands to lose.

To prevent seniors from being abused by the legal system when they try to act probate a will, they should have access to legal help. And that is what I am going to flight to see become a reality. This form of elder abuse has to be addressed.