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Comal County Judge orders funeral funding for living 77-year-old under guardianship
New Braunfels, TX

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 the Court.”

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 the aging.

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.”