State Lays Burden Of Mentally Ill On Probate Court Clients

Published Tuesday, July 21, 2015
by Deborah M. Rose, Anne P. Collord; and Reginald P. Finno

Letter to the Editor

Thanks to The Courant for highlighting the need to restore the cap on probate fees as well as state funding for the probate system [July 21, editorial, "Problematic Probate"]. There are myriad strong reasons for the legislature to reconsider this aspect of the state budget, including the issues raised in the editorial.

Here is another significant reason to restore general fund support: The probate courts have essentially replaced psychiatric hospitals as overseers of the care of mentally ill and chronically drug-addicted individuals. Most of these vulnerable people are indigent and rely on government entitlements, including state-paid conservators to oversee their finances and their mental health care.

Court-appointed conservators are essential in a state only extremely limited mental illness placements. The state cannot sweep the needs of its mentally ill population under the rug by calling it a probate court issue after closing state mental hospitals and then laying the cost of care on the users of the probate court system.

"Ordinary folks" ought to care -- and not just as a matter of principle -- because the inevitable, bone-crushing financial burden of probate court fees will become theirs as the wealthy flee our probate system and ordinary folks find themselves next in line to support it. Citizens should wake up -- it's time to contact your legislators.

Deborah M. Rose, West Hartford; Anne P. Collord, West Hartford; and Reginald P. Finno, Burlington

Rose is a lawyer; Collord and Finno are court-appointed conservators.