NEW BRAUNFELS - A Comal County judge approved a request to fund
prepaid funeral benefits for a New Braunfels woman under court-appointed
guardianship who is still alive.
Comal County Judge Charles Stephens signed the order permitting
Texas Health and Human Services Commission (THHSC) to withdraw funds and
purchase prepaid funeral benefits for Shelley Thomson, 77, who resides
in a care center.
THHSC has been Thomson's guardian for two years.
Thomson was placed under guardianship on May 23, 2019 and relocated
to a bedroom with bars on the window in a facility after she fell ill
with potassium deficiency and visited a hospital emergency room.
Prior to being guardianized by the THHSC and the Comal County
Court, Thomson lived freely in a New Braunfels house that she inherited
from a parent.
“The Applicant, THHSC, has incurred or will incur expenses on
behalf of the creditor, as Guardian of the Person in this matter as a
result of purchasing prepaid funeral and burial contracts on behalf of
the creditor,” wrote Judge Stephens in the order dated May 10. “The
Guardian of the Person, THHSC, as Custodian, is required to use funds in
the amount of $14,885.65 for the Ward’s benefit under the direction of
As previously reported in the Southeast Texas Record,
a lawsuit was filed against THHSC in Western District federal court on
behalf of Thomson on July 5, 2019, for alleged constitutional violations
but it was dismissed voluntarily with prejudice on Aug. 29.
Once under a court-appointed guardianship, older adults like
Thomson can be denied the right to decide where to live, what meals to
eat, to vote, to choose medical care and medicine or not, health
insurance, and marital status, to handle finances, to choose a lawyer
and even to have family and friends visit them.
On June 3, Thomson posted on Facebook that she had been repeatedly
given psychoactive medication against her firmly expressed wishes and
that the pills were presented as vitamins or by dosing her food with it.
“I have physical evidence of this practice,” Thomson wrote in the post that appeared in the Facebook group Save Shelley * Stop Fraudulent Guardianships.
“It is abusive and the facility is well aware of my objections.
Something else to which I object... persons sent by the State show up at
any time without notice. I am accosted without warning and essentially
made to be a witness against myself. They can lie about my behavior or
the condition of my room, and there is no way for me to contest this.”
The application to release the funds was filed by Anne M. Angerer, an attorney who works for the THHSC.
“It is therefore ordered that the Guardian purchase prepaid funeral
benefits set forth in the contracts attached to the Application as
Exhibits A and B, as authorized by Estates Code § 1355.103, that the
county clerk of Comal County, Texas, be ordered to immediately release
the amount of $14,885.65 to Texas Health and Human Services Commission,
to be used for expenses of the care and maintenance of Shelley Sue
Thomson, creditor,” Judge Stephens stated.
As 77 million baby boomers advance into their golden years,
advocates are lobbying for reform of the existing system to prevent
unconstitutional, exploitative, fraudulent, and deadly guardianships of
Thomson alleges she is not free to walk on the grounds of the facility unless a staff person accompanies her.
"They are seldom willing to do that,” Thomson stated in her June 3
Facebook post. “I get at most a half-hour of slow walking per week,
which is not enough to sustain health or morale. I get no exercise. The
other inmates are incapable of conversation. The only exception is so
heavily doped up that he can hardly talk. I refuse to take psych meds
but they have given them to me against my wishes. I have evidence of
Haldol in particular. I protest against this in vain."
Thomson further states that a psychiatrist sent by the state
pronounced her delusional because she claimed to be a scientist and
thought life could exist on other planets.
"The State does not want any evidence of my capability," Thomson
wrote in her social media post. "I have told them in writing that I
would agree to another psychiatric interview if it were recorded, an
observer of my choice were present, and if I were given a copy of the
recording at the end of the session. The State has declined to comply.”