Guardianship News:

Florida Guardian Performance Bond Scam

VIEWPOINT

September 13, 2018

Another way Unsupervised Probate Courts Shortchange Families

 

The Palm Beach Post has taken a leadership position in exposing the serious systemic problems in probate guardianships in Palm Beach County courts. While the focus has been on the ongoing investigations of the alleged multiple abuses of one particular Guardian, Betsy Savitt, and her husband former judge Martin Colin, their alleged longstanding exploitation of the system is hardly unique, is widely imitated by others that we refer to as court insiders all throughout the State of Florida and the nation.

 

The issue of how dangerous professional guardianship can be for unsuspecting families, especially those who suffer from family dysfunction, has been well documented in local, regional and even national publications including the New Yorker article of November 2017 by Rachel Aviv “How Seniors Lose their Rights” and on websites like www.aaapg.net and in my book “Guardianships And The Elderly The Perfect Crime”.

One particular aspect of the system is especially galling to victims of guardianship abuse. Florida statutes indicate that judges in probate cases are required to insist that guardians, particularly professional guardians, obtain a performance bond to be eligible to be appointed as Guardian in new cases. Typically the value of this bond is around $50,000. The cost of such a bond is minimal and is often charged to the estate of the alleged Ward anyhow. Although judges ofttimes waive the bond requirement as a “professional courtesy” (!!!) to the professional Guardian with which they have an existing trusting relationship, generally speaking a Guardian’s performance bond is thought of as a safeguard against malfeasance by the Guardian. However the reality is something quite different.

 

First a $50,000 bond is hardly adequate to protect anyone from malfeasance when an estate is worth multiple millions of dollars, as is commonly the case in for-profit guardianships. Secondly, the typical Guardian performance bond can only be attacked once, meaning that it is worth $50,000 at most no matter how many cases of malfeasance have been alleged. Third, in order to even attempt to collect on a performance bond, a claimant must hire an attorney to pursue the claim and that attorney will be opposed by other attorneys from the bonding company. Once a claim is received discovery, depositions, testimony, hearings and appeals could not only take up to several years to complete but would also generate legal bills for the claimant of far more than $50,000, making the entire exercise pointless. Not only that , but should the claim be defeated, the claimant would be on the hook for all legal bills incurred including those of the attorneys for the bonding company. These realities help to explain why there have been almost no claims against Florida Guardian bonds for decades and why the entire system is a sham. As always, the only winners are the court insiders with their judicial immunity and big business bonding companies that almost never have to pay claims. And let’s not forget the Bar leadership who have profited handsomely from their stakes in the bonding and malpractice companies they created for their members.

 

The victims of guardianship exploitation and abuse (many, many more than just the 13 cases of Betsy Savitt described in the Palm Beach Post Series) deserve far more protection from such a fatally flawed system and more importantly so do the potential new victims that will undoubtedly be involved in probate guardianship contests going forward as the baby boomers age and become demented.

The current system utterly fails to prevent professional Guardian exploitation of innocent and vulnerable seniors and their families. In addition to absolute judicial and quasijudicial immunity automatically provided  the judge, lawyers and guardians, (which almost completely prevents filing of lawsuits against court insiders), plus  an astounding total  lack of monitoring, supervision or supervision on the part of regulatory bodies including the Supreme Court, the Judicial Qualifications Commission and of course the Florida bar, court insiders are free to pervert the laws designed to protect innocent vulnerable elders and their families with impunity and without the slightest  fear of retribution or discipline.

We urgently call on Chief judge Krista Marx and Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga to immediately require a mandatory minimum performance bond of $1 million for every existing guardianship, for every professional Guardian and every new professional guardianship case created. In cases with estates worth more than $1 million, the performance bond should be set at no less than 100% of the value of the estate and accrue only to the benefit of the estate and its heirs. Public servants Marx and La Barga have the authority to impose such a rule with no need for legislative changes, if they have the courage to do the right thing and fealty toward and compassion for the citizens for whom they work.

Such actions would, admittedly in a small way,  begin to hold the probate equity guardianship system responsible for the harm it has done to citizens of Palm Beach County and the state. It would be a start.

Sam J Sugar MD

Founder Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship

www.aaapg.net

drsam@aaapg.net

855 913 5337 x 101

 

3 Comments on Florida Guardian Performance Bond Scam

  1. Great pointer.
    How about the caregivers?
    I lived with my mom and provided her with excellent care.
    She was wealthy. I am wealthy. I spent my money took care of her without my brother’s help. My Mother was proud woman. She would not want to be called “incapacitated”. She was not.
    The Guardianship attorneys used bait, switch, cut and past Court order case number from other people, cut out Judge’s signature and pasted onto court order. Then sent it all to financial institutions. Can you believed it? These financial institutions even with all these attorneys believe these fake court orders!!!
    Then these attorneys file Motions, Pleading, and other Court papers without following PROBATE COURT RULES. No signatures, no required notary. All court papers ask Honorable Judge to write Court Order for in Probate suppose to have signature from pleader, signature from notary, signature from attorney. All three signatures. NONE on all Court papers for Judge to act. Therefore, these attorney just created court orders. As long as other attorneys do not point it out.
    Federal Court is more careful. Honorable Judge will check for Signatures, conference, certificate of service etc. before issue any court order.
    I think it is got out of hand. It is being use to put people in jail for extortion. I was placed in jail for 429 hours for Contempt to Court. This is after my mother passed away for 10 months. The Contempt Court order is a fake court order.
    Dr. Sugar your analysis is correct about the attorney fee.
    That is why I am Pro se. I spent numerous hours read, and read. What is in 15th Circuit Court is unbelievable cruel to elderly.
    The Guardianship is for the best interest for elderly and not court appointed attorney, petitioner attorneys, et. al.
    The attorneys used “ward” for ransom, extortion, harass and threat. The professional guardianship cannot do anything without attorney’s help. Attorney’s are the problem first.
    Look at the recent case in Palm Beach County. Who in the right mind will put an elderly woman who lived in 46 million dollar house in assisting living? The same legal team doing the damage to the elderly and their heirs.
    No consequence that is the problem. I filed Federal Lawsuit against the predatory attorneys but Federal Court dismissed it even with Jury Trial Demanded. I have to appeal to Federal Appellate Court for review. It is good that Federal Appellate Court can review the this case to put me in jail. My parents left me 1/3 of their estate. I am an Elderly Asian woman. These attorneys came to Court each time want me to sign Court Order to give up my inheritance. I refused and that is the reason that I was in jail for 429 hours. The Judge couldn’t hold me in jail any longer so she was willing to settle for $20,000 for me to get out of jail. The Motion was no body sign that Motion. Placed me in jail for threat, harass, ransom, and extortion. Remember jail came from everybody’s tax dollar.
    Many woman that I asked what happened to me. They would rather give up their inheritance.
    In my case, I won’t. But I make sure my mother live in her own house that she had everything she wanted. The banging on the door and shouting caused her to have another stroke.
    The last few months from the fake guardianship was unbelievable.
    The Guardianship Law is there, the protection is there.
    What is not there is… the NO requirement for Attorney.
    The Court appointed attorney demand incapacitated.
    The petitioner attorney demand incapacitated.
    My ex-attorney demand incapacitated.
    All three attorneys knew Least Restrictive Alternative Guardianship.
    All three attorneys violated Florida Constitution Article I section 23. Privacy.
    My Mother’s basic right of privacy. She has her daughter who protected her. Those fake, bait, switch, cut and paste court orders took her money before she died and after she died. Between March 1, 2017 to March 1, 2018, attorney billed over 170,000 and received from my brother over $170,000. The attorney took from me because those are trust money that should have been distributed in 2017. The attorney received money but I did not. Because I won’t give them my inheritance so they filed numerous fake court orders to have me incarcerated. It can call churning for attorney fees.
    What do you think Federal Appellate Court would have opinion on this? Will ACLU take my case?

  2. All guardianship should demand investigation on all court file. All guardianship should just like appellate court have brief and panel of judge review the case with exhibits. Attorney made false statements must have immediate sanctions.
    There is Court order for attorney fee. In my mother’s fake guardianship case (there is no declaration of incapacitated, I just found out) should have open file for review by “interest party(ies)”. The file was closed and I couldn’t see what is in there that caused incapacitated letters sent to financial institutions for transfer of assets that was frozen and became unfrozen for my brother to write checks to attorneys.

  3. Why isn’t a mandatory bond for professional guardians in place ? Well I know real reason why but I’m wondering if a reasonable explanation has ever been provided?

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