An interview with the Guardianship Manager of Intervention Associates
This continues my interview series with Intervention Associates delivering on the goal of bringing interesting information on how individuals on the team personally contribute to delivering on the important mission of the organization. Please continue reading for highlights of that interview or click here for the recorded Podcast.
I sat down to speak with E. Nego Pile, Esquire, the guardianship manager of Intervention Associates, to learn about his role and the well-regarded guardianship services of Pennsylvania provided by Intervention Associates.
Etta: Hi. I’m Etta Dale Hornsteiner and today I will be speaking with Nego Pile from Intervention Associates who is an attorney who focuses on elder law, real estate law, and estate planning. A majority of Nego’s law career has been dedicated to helping individuals and communities. He has also volunteered with the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, Montgomery Child Advocacy Project and other social services organization. He’s a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law and is a member of the Pennsylvania and Montgomery Bar Associations. He speaks at Bar Association conferences and has authored a variety of articles on estate planning and other concerns of older adults.
Nego: Thank you. Thank you, Etta.
Etta: Well, Nego, tell us a little bit about what you do at Intervention Associates which is a professional care management and guardianship service?
Nego: At Intervention Associates, I am the guardianship manager and I handle all matters concerning guardianship. That also spills over into non-guardianship matters such as power of attorney services that Intervention Associates provides to its clients.
Just a little bit about guardianship. Guardianship really is the situation where Intervention Associates serves as the guardians for an adult individual who is incapable of managing their health, personal, or financial affairs. And so Intervention Associates would become that individual’s surrogate and advocate to manage parts of their life, and depending on what that particular client has a need for, if that client has a need for someone to manage their personal affairs, Intervention Associates would step in and manage that person’s living arrangements, doctor visits, helping them navigate the world with their daily activities of living.
Likewise, on the financial matter, if Intervention Associates is serving as that individual’s guardian of the estate, Intervention Associates would manage that individual’s finances. So think of anything that you do financially for yourself and that’s what Intervention Associates would do. So we would pay client’s bills; we would balance their bank accounts; if they have a house and they’re moving, we would sell that house on their behalf and the money would go into their account. We would make investment decisions for that individual and all their tax filings and tax requirements and all of those financial matters that you customarily do for yourself on a daily basis.
Etta: Now, you’re a practicing attorney. So do you handle the legal part of this?
Nego: I do. My role also extends to handling any matters for guardianship that would entail filing petitions, going to court, handling petitions before the judge in the particular county that we are seeking guardianship and other legal matters that we would have to deal with. So a lot of my time really is spent drafting legal documents, appearing in court and also communicating with other attorneys, judges, and people on the legal community. So my role is heavily focused on the legal aspect of what’s involved with guardianship.
Here in Pennsylvania guardianship is a court ordered process and it begins with getting a sound assessment of the individual. So we have to first get medical support and evidence stating or showing that that individual has some incapacity, meaning that that individual is incapable of handling some part of their life, whether it be personal, physical, financial. And some of the reasons an individual may have that difficulty is they fall in for the category of that person having an intellectual disability, a person having dementia, if it’s an older person, or some other cognitive or physical disability that would prevent that individual from fulfilling their activities of daily living.
Once we have the medical support for that person’s incapacity then we have to petition our local Orphans’ Court in the county where that person resides to seek guardianship and to also have that person declared incapacitated. And it’s a serious matter because what we’re saying is in effect to the court is that this person is no longer able to manage their own affairs and that they should be declared legally incapable of advocating for themselves.
Etta: So who makes these decisions, Nego? Is it the family who would be involved in the decision making, because if the individual is incapacitated in some way—whatever disability that individual is experiencing, who will be a part of making these decisions?
Nego: That’s a good question, Etta. Basically, if the person, the client has family, the family is involved in that and usually the family are the primary caregivers of that individual and it has been difficult for that family being that primary caregiver, so they usually come to Intervention Associates for help and relief. And so we make sure that any time we’re filing a guardianship petition that it’s absolutely necessary and critical for that person and for us to pursue that course of action. We always try to look at the least restrictive course of action that we can pursue. If there are other least restrictive course of actions that we can pursue then we do that. Guardianship is the last measure that we ever want to go to court and ask the court to grant.
Etta: And why is that?
Nego: Because you’re taking away that person’s autonomy and their individual right to manage their own affairs. And so now with guardianship, you have someone else controlling what that person is going to do, how they do it, and so it’s very serious. It’s a severe measure and a severe step that you take when you presume guardianship because that guardian now controls that person’s finances. And so the guardian has to be someone with good character, trustworthy, and someone that’s going to advocate on behalf of the incapacitated person. Because you can look across the country and you can see stories in newspapers where guardians have been appointed and they have not been the appropriate or the correct person to be guardians for that person. And so they take their money and they use it for their own personal gain or they may not use the incapacitated person’s money for the incapacitated person’s benefit or for their care.
For all those reasons, it’s a pretty severe measure to take and there are a couple of things the court wants to make sure. They want to make sure that the person that the petition is saying needs to be declared incapacitated truly is incapacitated and that’s where the medical support and evidence comes into play. And if the court feels that the medical evidence is not sufficient to show that that person is incapacitated, then the court will not declare that person an incapacitated person.
So there’s a high bar that has to be met in court and also there’s the scrutiny as to the guardian and whether the guardian is experienced to handle being a guardian and whether they have any criminal history, they have any history of filing bankruptcy or any kind of financial distress or difficulties that they have gone through or are going through. Because if that guardian has any of those things, the court is less likely to award guardianship to that person. They want to make sure that that guardian is someone that’s going to put the incapacitated person first and not try to personally gain from being the guardian.
Etta: So with Intervention Associates, why are they so unique, do you think, in this field? Because you’ve already said – we’ve heard of horror stories in the news of individuals that have been taken advantage of. So yes, we are looking for individuals or an organization definitely that we can trust. So what would you say makes Intervention Associates stand out from amongst the crowd?
Nego: Etta, basically, with Intervention Associates, what’s unique to our organization is that at the beginning we have a guardianship committee and that committee is comprised of the care managers that work at Intervention Associates, myself, the executive director of Intervention Associates and we have senior officers of the company that are members as well, and also members from our finance department. So there’s really a comprehensive group of people and experienced people that look at our prospective guardianship cases that we are considering and also our existing guardianship cases. Before we even decide whether we’re going to take on a new guardianship client, that committee meets, discusses everything about that potential client and our ability to serve that client well. And so any time that we agreed to serve as a guardian, we’ve gone through a really rigorous and comprehensive process to assess whether that is going to be a situation that makes sense for the incapacitated person and also for our organization. We never get into a situation where we are not able or capable of handling a guardianship case.
A lot of the cases that come to us – and this is the other thing that really makes us a unique organization—the cases that come to us are oftentimes situations where there are family arguments and a lot of disagreements and a lot of back and forth that really doesn’t help the incapacitated person or the client that we’re going to work for. And so oftentimes where family members are battling each other and they have disagreements and there’s little movement to benefit their loved one that’s in need, usually those family members find themselves either before a judge or a court and we come in and we are able to really stabilize that situation and help the loved one that is in need and get them situated so that they’re getting benefits that really will help them. We communicate with the family so that we can diffuse a lot of the hostility and disagreements and arguments that are flying back and forth.
So, we are uniquely poised to help the loved one and also to serve in a kind of mediator type of a role where we’re helping family members focus on that loved one and less on themselves. We find that approach really helps the loved one that’s in need and we’re able to stabilize the ship, so to say. Those are a lot of the characteristics about the organization that makes it so unique and so capable of handling a lot of these complicated family situations and dynamics that exist.
Etta: I think it’s really complex as you have said when you do become a guardian. And in trying to understand Intervention Associates you have two sides to it: They are the care managers on one side and also you have the legal part under the umbrella of guardianship. So it’s all this coming together—intertwined in managing the life of an individual who you said can be incapacitated in some way. So, it’s a very complex area and definitely you would need individuals who you can trust as you’ve said and with character and who are definitely experienced.
So, Nego, just to change the tone of this interview just a little bit, I’m going to ask you two questions. What’s your favorite animal and why?
Nego: My favorite animal is the panther. The reason the panther is my favorite animal is, first of all, it’s one of those species that’s on the endangered list. They are uniquely qualified and able to manage their declining population. Even though they are hunted and a lot of predators target them, they are able to survive and they are able to do so understanding their environment, understanding their surroundings, and adapting while still serving their needs and protecting their families and so forth.
You look at a situation like that and you look at history and you look at different species that have become extinct and unfortunately, when their environment changes, they’re unable to adapt and to survive. You look at the panther and their ability to continue to survive this fight, the overwhelming difficulties that they face.
The other thing about panthers, they don’t roam around in large groups. You will find that a panther roams around independently and they’re also territorial. They’re protective of the environment that they occupy. The reason I look at the panther and I have such an interest and affinity for the panther is that I look at how I am and what I do. I’m very protective of my clients. I’m protective of the people that I care about. I also have the ability to adapt to situations, and I think in life you have to be flexible, you have to be able to adapt. I think that’s one of the things that really promotes longevity, long life, and also a harmonious way of living. I think if people are too rooted in their beliefs, their customs and they’re unwilling to change, it can make it much more difficult to deal with a changing society and changing world. And I think the world that I knew 20 years ago or even 30 years ago is completely different. The panther is an animal that’s able to adapt and really continue to outlive their declining population, and so that’s one of the reasons it’s one of my favorite animals.
Etta: Wasn’t there a movie recently out, the Black Panther? Is that your superhero or do you have another superhero?
Nego: Actually, I do have another superhero. I do like the Black Panther. But I would say my favorite superhero is Luke Cage. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Luke Cage. He’s one of the Marvel characters. I also have this debate with friends and if Batman had superpowers, then Batman would’ve been my favorite superhero, so Batman isn’t a superhero. Some would disagree with me on that.
But Luke Cage is an individual who resides in Harlem and he was sent to prison for a crime that he really didn’t commit. While he was in prison, there were some scientists that did some operations and procedures. Long story short, Luke Cage ended up getting some superpowers. He had super strength and he had skin that was as tough as steel, and so he was bulletproof and he really can’t be injured. He ended up getting out of prison and living in the community in Harlem.
One of the things that he always did was he fought for the everyday person – the person that may have been older, the person that may have been challenged physically, or the person that just wasn’t able to fight back. He stayed humble, didn’t try to do more than he felt that he could but he was there in the community protecting the good people against the bad people.
You look at modern day heroes, whether they’re soldiers, police officers, people that run toward danger, and you have to have a certain makeup to do that. Luke Cage is one of my favorite superheroes for that. I think some of the other high profile superheroes like Superman and these other folks, they fight these made-up villains and so forth, but I think with Luke Cage, he’s fighting the criminals that you see in the news, the real criminals.
There’s also a deeper story in terms of bringing a lot of people with diverse opinions, diverse thoughts together that you see in a lot of the Luke Cage stories. Especially given this time in our country where there are a lot of divide in this, I think there’s a call and a need for our society, our country to really come together. It’s heartbreaking to see that we’re not doing that. I think and I’m optimistic that there is a time that will come that we will see that in our society but I think we have to continue to fight any of these isms – racism, sexism – anything that a person is looking down on another group of people just because of that group’s makeup. That’s who Luke Cage is and that’s the reason why he’s my favorite superhero. He fights against all of that.
Etta: That is so great. Wow. I just love everything you said. For those who may be interested in these superheroes, I think Luke Cage is a Netflix original.
Etta: Yeah, so that’s great. You’ve certainly given us so much information about Intervention Associates. I think they’re real superheroes to the people they serve, don’t you think?
Nego: I do, I do. The people that work here, they go above and beyond. I tell them directly to their face every time I see and speak with them – the care managers, the support staff – I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without them doing their job. Honestly, what they do is above and beyond anything that people really see and they’re behind the scenes doing it. They’re not doing it for praise, they’re not doing it to be thanked. They’re doing it because they really care and they’re passionate about the work that they do. That’s what really helps the client and the people that need the help. Any time I get an opportunity to give them a shout-out or to send praises to them, I take that opportunity and I want to just reiterate that on this call. The folks that are really doing the groundwork here in Intervention Associates – the care managers, the social workers – they are phenomenal, and the people in finance that support us. It’s a real group of wonderful, dedicated, hardworking people.
Etta: That sounds great. Thank you, Nego, thank you so much for this interview.
Nego: Thank you, Etta.
Etta: You’re welcome. Thank you again.
About E. Nego Pile, Esq.
E. Nego Pile is a practicing attorney whose focus includes elder law, real estate law and estate planning. He joined Intervention Associates in 2013 as guardianship manager. In this position, he leads and oversees all guardianship, trust, power of attorney and representative payee accounts. He coordinates requirements for guardian of the estate accounts and acts on behalf of Intervention Associates in court, filing petitions and making necessary appearances. A majority of Nego’s law career has been dedicated to helping individuals and communities. He has also volunteered with the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent (VIP) Program, Montgomery Child Advocacy Project and other social services organizations. He is a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law and is a member of the Pennsylvania and Montgomery Bar Associations. He speaks at bar association conferences and has authored a variety of articles on estate planning and other concerns of older adults.