Court for Prince George's County Case No. CAE-15-19452
Wright, Graeff, Nazarian, JJ.
2015, Jing Miao Miseveth, appellant, filed, in the Circuit
Court for Prince George's County, a petition for
guardianship of the person and property for her husband,
Theodore Miseveth. The circuit court ultimately granted
appellant's request to be guardian of the person;
however, the court ordered that a third-party, Jeanne Aelion,
appellee, be guardian of the property. In 2016, Aelion was
appointed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (the
"VA") to be the fiduciary of Mr. Miseveth's VA
benefits (hereinafter "Representative Payee"). Not
long after, appellant submitted an application to the VA
requesting that she be named Representative Payee. That
application was granted. Aelion thereafter filed a petition
in the circuit court regarding, among other things,
appellant's appointment as Representative Payee.
Following a hearing, the court ordered that appellant
reinstate Aelion as Representative Payee or, in the
alternative, that appellant submit a portion of Mr.
Miseveth's VA benefits to Aelion every month. Appellant
then filed a motion for reconsideration, which the court
appeal, appellant presents the following question for our
Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 511(a) and the interpreting case
law, did the Circuit Court lack subject matter jurisdiction
to pass any order addressing the appointment of the fiduciary
for or the distribution of Mr. Miseveth's Department of
Veterans Affairs disability benefits?
reasons to follow, we answer appellant's question in the
affirmative. Because, however, the circuit court's
judgment contains various other provisions not challenged in
the instant appeal, we reverse only that part of the judgment
concerning Mr. Miseveth's VA benefits.
Miseveth, a veteran, suffered a stroke in May of 2015 that
left him disabled. Not long after, appellant, Mr.
Miseveth's wife of approximately four years, filed a
petition seeking to become guardian of her husband's
person and property. The circuit court held a hearing on that
petition in November of 2015 and ultimately granted
appellant's request to be guardian of Mr. Miseveth's
person. Appellant's request to be guardian of the
property, on the other hand, was denied. In so doing, the
court expressed concerns about appellant's accounting
practices and management of Mr. Miseveth's funds. As
such, a court-appointed attorney, Aelion, was named as
guardian of Mr. Miseveth's property.
about March of 2016, Aelion, as part of her duties as
guardian of Mr. Miseveth's property, was named by the VA
as Representative Payee of Mr. Miseveth's VA benefits,
which equaled $3, 068.90 per month. As part of that
appointment, the VA issued a Fiduciary Agreement that
itemized Mr. Miseveth's monthly expenses and how his VA
benefits would be used to pay those expenses. Included in
that itemization were expenses for auto insurance; utilities,
mortgage, and insurance on a primary residence; utilities and
insurance on real property owned by Mr. Miseveth; utilities
and insurance on another piece of real property owned by Mr.
Miseveth; and, a $1, 000.00 monthly stipend for appellant.
The total for those expenses was $2, 976.89, all of which was
covered by Mr. Miseveth's VA benefits.
the same time that Aelion submitted her application,
appellant also submitted an application to the VA to become
Representative Payee, but the VA denied that application and
instead named Aelion. Several months later, appellant,
unbeknownst to Aelion, again applied to become Representative
Payee. The VA ultimately granted that application and named
appellant as Representative Payee. As part of that
appointment, the VA issued a notice to Mr. Miseveth and
Aelion informing them of the new appointment. The VA also
created a new list of Mr. Miseveth's expenses and how his
VA benefits would be used to pay those expenses. That list of
expenses, which differed significantly from the list that had
been issued following Aelion's appointment, included
expenses for auto insurance; utilities and insurance on a
primary residence; a "cleaning service" for the
residence; appellant's prescriptions; "lawn
care"; "groceries"; and "special
foods" for Mr. Miseveth. The total for those expenses
was $2, 724.35.
October of 2016, Aelion filed a petition in the circuit court
regarding appellant's appointment as Representative
Payee. Specifically, Aelion argued that, as guardian of the
property, she had insufficient funds to cover Mr.
Miseveth's expenses because appellant, as Representative
Payee, was using some of Mr. Miseveth's VA benefits for
"questionable" expenses. Aelion asked the court to
settle the matter at a hearing on October 24, 2016, which the
court had previously scheduled to address other issues.
hearing, the circuit court heard evidence regarding
appellant's appointment as Representative Payee and her
use of Mr. Miseveth's benefits. Based on that evidence,
which is not in dispute, the court found as follows:
It's noted that after the Court appointed the guardian of
the property, that [Aelion] became the representative payee,
that at some point [appellant] had that changed and she
became the representative payee. And it really - it appears
that the guardian of the property was not opposed to that, if
she were paying his bills. Because he has a significant
number of bills, which ...