“Huge conflict of interest” | Texas legislator wants to ban guardians receiving benefits in case of death of clients

After a WFAA investigation uncovered a case in which a guardian became the beneficiary of a deceased client’s insurance policy, the legislator took action.

ARLINGTON, Texas – In life, Leroy Anderson needed others to take care of him.

Anderson had the intelligence of a 10-year-old child. He was also diabetic, schizophrenic and bipolar.

He lived in a so-called dorm here in Dallas. His guardian was paid by the state.

In 2018, a 49-year-old man fell into a diabetic coma and died. that his family learned after his death left them speechless.

Four years ago, the WFAA reported that Anderson’s group’s homeowner, not his family, was going to collect a $50,000 life insurance payout after his death, finding a loophole in the law.

Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) is now working to change that.

“When I saw this report, I was amazed,” Turner said in a recent interview with WFAA. “I couldn’t figure out it was legal.”

He proposed legislation that would have prohibited a caretaker in a group home or similar establishment from receiving life insurance payments for a non-relative.

“This is a huge conflict of interest and should not be allowed,” the deputy said.

Hospital records show that over a two-day period in July 2018, Anderson’s health deteriorated rapidly at the group home run by Trace Henderson.

Henderson’s workers told doctors that Anderson went through a “manic episode” and “didn’t eat much” for several days, records show.

On one occasion, workers reported that Anderson “was in bed all day and the staff assumed he was asleep,” records show.

They said Anderson seemed “normal” when they checked him in before bed, but the next morning he was found “in the same position” and did not wake up, records show.

An ambulance took him to the hospital.

Anderson died the next day. An autopsy revealed that he died of natural causes.

His uncle, David Hunt, was the primary beneficiary of Anderson’s life insurance policy.

But a few months before Anderson’s death, Henderson became the main beneficiary of the policy.

Henderson owns A Champion Home and Community Based Services, which operated the group home that Anderson lived in.

Anderson’s therapy notes describe him as having a “childish mind” and “reduced mental capacity”.

However, because Anderson’s family did not file paperwork to make legal decisions for him, the law said he could make his own, so he was the only person who could make policy changes.

In a 2019 email, Henderson said he could not “comment on the specifics of any case due to confidentiality.”

“We would like the world to know about the kind soul of Leroy Anderson,” he added. “Over the past three years, Mr. Anderson has become like family to us, his smile, quiet voice lit up the room. He loved gospel and Mexican food. He has friends here who miss him very much.

His email also contained an obvious reference to Hunt.

“What’s more discouraging than his death is that distant relatives who had NO interest in his welfare while alive are now trying to exploit his death,” the email said.

Hunt called it a “big lie”.

Hunt said that he often found it difficult to contact Anderson and believes Champion tried to keep Anderson away from him and other family members.

“Leroy was just another paycheck for them,” Hunt said.

The life insurance company filed a lawsuit trying to determine who should receive Anderson’s $50,000 payout.

The case was settled out of court.

Hunt says the family has about $12,000 left of the $50,000 policy.

“You’re already getting paid to do your job as the owner of this group house, it just wasn’t right,” Hunt said in a recent interview.

In a new WFAA statement this year, Henderson wrote that “Champion has never taken out a life insurance policy for anyone we serve, including Leroy.”

“However, we have been reimbursed for legal fees and the cost of his funeral, totaling approximately $5,000, from a pre-existing policy originally bought out by Leroy’s late mother,” the statement said.

The statement said the legislation “fails to take into account that service providers are often challenged to ensure that the people we care about receive the same respect as everyone else. This bill could interfere with the fulfillment of a consumer’s ultimate desires by prohibiting the only family or friend the individual may have from fulfilling those desires.”

Based largely on reports from the WFAA, Turner proposed a package of laws that:

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texasstandard.news contributed to this report.

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