THE TRAGEDY OF GUARDIANSHIP FRAUD
A millionaire's guardian: many hats, many questions
By Maureen O'Hagan and Cheryl Phillips
center of the controversy was
The story begins in the 1980s when Ray, mentally ill and addicted to drugs, was living in a halfway house despite his wealth. His family asked for the appointment of a guardian, a role that GSS personnel took on in 1987.
the company's care, Ray's life improved dramatically. He bought a house on
Capitol Hill, traveled and gave generously to friends and arts organizations in
Then in October 2005, Ray died unexpectedly at age 52.
family members learned the details of his will, they were dismayed. Under an
old will, Ray had left everything to relatives, heirs of the Widener family of
He signed a new will in 1998, a
four-paragraph document also signed by his psychiatrist, saying Ray was of
sound mind. Under the new will, Ray bequeathed his entire estate to
the Raynier Institute and Foundation, a
Ray's sister, Joan Ray, said she didn't have a problem giving the money to charity; she was just concerned about the guardian's role in the foundation.
were too many hats worn by one person," Joan Ray said recently. She wasn't
Guardians are not prohibited from being executors of estates, or from running their ward's foundations.
After Ray's family contested the will, the state Attorney General's Office intervened in the case, concerned that the board members weren't equipped to run a charity of that size.
he wasn't surprised that Ray wanted GSS involved with his legacy. The company
had helped Ray for 18 years, and he was closer to some of his caregivers than
"Unless you're going to say Jim isn't allowed to pick who he trusts, what else could have been done?" asked Tom O'Brien, GSS executive director.
Earlier this year, Joan Ray and the foundation reached an agreement that created up to three new seats on its board after an out-of-court settlement was reached.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company