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In re Guardianship and Conservatorship of Whetstone

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

IN RE THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP OF MARVIN D. WHETSTONE, Ward
v.
LYNN BOESET, Appellee. JOHN KEVIN WORMLEY and JOAN REED, Appellants,

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Adair County, Peter A. Keller, Judge.

         Former attorneys-in-fact appeal from an adverse appointment of guardian and conservator. AFFIRMED.

          Charlotte Sucik and Benjamin J. Bragg of Abendroth & Russell Law Firm, Urbandale, for appellants.

          Doyle Sanders of Beving, Swanson & Forrest, P.C, Des Moines, and Catherine M. Lucas and Brianna Vaughn of Bradshaw Fowler Proctor & Fairgrave, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Breanna Lea Young of Nelson Young & Braland, Earlham, guardian ad litem for ward.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         On January 26, 2016, Meleah Whetstone filed a petition for involuntary appointment of guardian and conservator, naming her father, Marvin Whetstone, as the proposed ward. At that time, Marvin's step-son, John Kevin Wormley, and Marvin's sister, Joan Reed, were acting as his attorneys-in-fact pursuant to a power of attorney Marvin had previously executed. After a hearing on March 3, the court issued orders naming Lynn Boeset, an unrelated party, as Marvin's guardian and conservator. Wormley and Reed appeal.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Marvin is eighty-six years old. He has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, Parkinson's disease, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and type 2 diabetes. Marvin has lived in the Stuart Community Care Center, a nursing home, since February 2011.

         Marvin has three biological children: Meleah, Dan Whetstone, and Bruce Whetstone. The three children do not have regular contact with Marvin. Meleah lives in Arizona, Bruce lives in California, and Dan lives in Toddville, Iowa.

         Over the years, Marvin executed several documents relating to care decisions. In 2003, he executed a durable power of attorney for health care decisions, naming Vera Whetstone (his then-wife) his agent, Meleah his contingent agent, and Bruce his second contingent agent. In 2012, he executed a durable power of attorney for health care decisions and a durable general power of attorney, naming Wormley and Reed his co-agents on both. In July 2015, he executed a durable power of attorney for health care decisions naming Meleah his agent, Reed his first contingent agent, and Wormley his second contingent agent.

         In August 2015, Marvin's physician wrote a letter stating Marvin was unable to drive, sign any legal documents, or make major decisions. In November 2015, Wormley presented Marvin with a document to revoke the July 2015 durable power of attorney. At the time of trial, Meleah was under the impression the July 2015 document had been revoked. The nursing home also acted as though the 2012 document controlled.

         A social worker from the care center reported several concerning incidents involving Wormley. When Marvin was admitted to the care center, the family- Vera, Meleah, and Wormley-got into an argument, and the center called the police. Wormley once demanded entry into a board meeting for the care center and was finally admitted only after protesting repeatedly. Wormley denied that description of events and stated he was allowed into the meeting with no issue. At another time, Wormley reported to Marvin that Wormley had lost a check, and Marvin became so agitated he attempted to leave the facility on his own to help Wormley search for the check. Wormley attempted to provide Marvin with a motorized wheelchair, although Marvin was unable to drive one, and the care center had to stop Wormley from doing so to protect Marvin. Even after Marvin failed a test to drive the wheelchair, Wormley attempted to have Marvin drive it. The care center and Marvin's physician had also made reports to the department of human services about suspicions of elder abuse and ...


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