Guardianship News:

Florida: Judge’s wife Elizabeth Savitt under investigation by new state guardianship office

Palm Beach Post front page Jan 17, 2016: Frail Seniors' Assets Benefit Judge, Wife. Guardian's cases often decided by judge's friend. Former Florida Chief Justice calls for investigation. Judge Collin has 115 recusals in 6 months in cases with wife's lawyers. Palm Beach Post front page Jan 17, 2016: Frail Seniors' Assets Benefit Judge, Wife. Guardian's cases often decided by judge's friend. Former Florida Chief Justice calls for investigation. Judge Collin has 115 recusals in 6 months in cases with wife's lawyers.

From the Palm Beach Post, by John Pacenti

Elizabeth Savitt, the former judge’s wife and professional guardian who has been the subject of numerous of complaints from families of incapacitated seniors, is being investigated by the state’s new Office of Public and Professional Guardianship.

The agency is the state’s new watchdog for professional guardians and now has the power under rules adopted this legislative session to discipline them. If the investigation turns up wrongdoing, the penalty can include stripping Savitt of her registration with the state, which could stop her from serving as guardian.

The investigation remains confidential. It is unknown whether it emanates from one or multiple complaints. It could have been filed by a senior in guardianship, a relative or loved one. It could even have emanated from a member of the public or judiciary.

One complaint was filed by the attorney for Daniel Schmidt, the former Boca Raton resident who took care of one of Savitt’s wards, Carla Simmonds, a stroke victim.

Savitt resigned from the case after complaints surfaced when she tried to get a court to allow her access to the stroke victim’s $640,000 trust, which wasn’t part of the guardianship, and a $46,000 retirement account. Schmidt is still fighting attorney fees.

Schmidt said he hopes the complaint to the agency will “have Elizabeth Savitt eradicated from guardianship and to have criminal charges filed against her, her husband and her lawyers.”

Savitt – a tennis instructor by trade before becoming a guardian – has claimed she is being unfairly targeted by disgruntled members of families of those in her guardianships. She has pointed out she has never been removed from a guardianship case by a judge, though she has resigned from them as criticism mounted.

The Palm Beach Post reported on numerous complaints from families about Savitt in its series Guardianship: A Broken Trust in January 2016. More complaints have surfaced since then.

Savitt’s husband, former Circuit Judge Martin Colin, retired last year after the series spelled out his conflict of interest because of his wife’s work as a guardian. Colin and Savitt’s finances were replete with foreclosures, liens, and unpaid debts before she became a guardian in 2011.

The Palm Beach Post is working on a more in-depth piece on the Savitt investigation by the new guardianship office that will run in the print and web editions on Saturday.

To read this article on the Palm Beach Post website, click here.

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