Guardianship News:

Defund Probate, don’t defend it!

2. Why does guardianship exist 2. Why does guardianship exist?


The Palm Beach Post has done a wonderful job of exposing fatal flaws in Probate court in Palm Beach County that are reflective of identical crises throughout the State.

Given the countless complaints and news stories  about abusive probate guardianships in the State of Florida, there should remain no doubt whatsoever that this court-based process originally designed to protect innocent vulnerable has devolved, in a surprisingly high percentage of cases, into a massive, legalized system of exploitation and elder cleansing in many of  Florida’s 67 counties.

Similarly, despite several consecutive years of reform legislation signed into law designed to curb these abuses by court insiders including judges, guardians and lawyers,  there can be no doubt that these legislative fixes and nibbling around the edges of the statutes and even the creation of the office of professional and private guardians (OPPG), and even the creation of yet another Supreme Court working group to address the problems well  identified in 2003 by a  similar Supreme Court committee, all have failed to make even a dent in the pervasive exploitation of our elders and their families in probate guardianship.

New for-profit guardianships continue to be created on a record pace all over Florida. It is a system out of control. Not one single Guardian or guardian’s attorney has been prosecuted for the myriad of elder abuse felonies that have been reported by the victims and families. No Grand Jury has been empowered; there has been no action by the Atty. General or any State’s Attorney; no Judge has faced any consequences from the Judicial Qualifications Commission for failure to monitor the guardianships he created or for ignoring the well-established advance directives of wards that have been thrown into abusive guardianship thereby enriching court insiders who are empowered to isolate, medicate and take their estate with endless unsupervised and unrestrained billing—all sanctioned by probate judges.

The Bar lawyers who rake in bundles of cash in probate courts—and cause so much legal abuse to wards and families– will never allow caps on their fees or hours as has been suggested as a remedy for court abuse. The Bar literally owns the legislature and would fight to the last drop of blood any attempts to limit their ill-gotten court approved lucre.

For decades, abused family members have attempted to seek redress from every level of government and law enforcement without success. For decades, the federal government including the Senate select committee on aging, the Social Security Administration, Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department have refused to insert or intervene into this multistate mafia like system. The Bar lawyers who write their own “probate rules” for their own benefit show a real disdain for anyone who dares challenge them.

All reasoned efforts by advocates have fallen on deaf ears and abuse and exploitation of our vulnerable continues unabated.

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that an alternative approach above and beyond the typical nostrums on how to demand action from our elected officials must be created.

It is often said that guardianship is all about money and nothing but money. As taxpayers, we have the right to demand that our tax dollars are spent wisely and not used to abuse the citizenry. It is for that reason that I believe the most effective way to curb the abuses in probate court across the State of Florida is to take immediate action in the legislature to at least partially defund all probate courts across the state and divert those dollars into the criminal justice system where it is needed.

Why should we give more and more money to a system that is so obviously dysfunctional? Why should the embarrassing failures of probate court Judges to actually do their jobs—like following the statutes!– be rewarded with raises and more funding? Why should the public be exposed to and pay for a system that exploits our most vulnerable and their families?

The immediate salutary effects of this move would be to reduce the number of new guardianships created, reduce workload on the court, force efficiencies that could save taxpayer dollars, increase staffing for serious criminal court cases which do threaten our safety, and importantly to send a clear and firm message to the independent branch of government known as the Judiciary and their bosses at the Bar who control it that we are fed up with good old boy business as usual and demand change now.

Those who would oppose such a move may one day find themselves or a loved one victimized by court exploitation in probate and rue the day they failed to demand change.

Comments welcome.





3 Comments on Defund Probate, don’t defend it!

  1. Probate Court victim // May 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm //

    I think this is a brilliant idea.

  2. Carol Wellman // August 17, 2017 at 2:19 am //

    We have to change how the courts look at guardianship–we have to tweak what they are currently using. There needs to be a cooling off period for any petitioner who wants to file a petition for competency. As long as the respondent is not in danger, a 10 day deferment should occur where the family must go into immediate mediation to work out decisions for their loved ones care that does not involve the court. We all know that once a petition is filed, there is no going back. Our loved ones get bullied and die in a barbaric system that wastes their fianances and derives the individual from making any decisions about how they want to live and die. They say guardianship is the last resort. Well lets insure that it really is, by not jumping the gun on petitions. Lets make sure our loved ones get what they need. Its not about one family member making decisions, its about sharing the decisons even if they hate each other. In lieu of that, a family member or members should share the decison making with a limited guardian of the person. These checks and balances are necessary to keep the loved one involved as much as possible in decisions as long as they can safely. My father is a 94 year old WWII veteran who no longer wanted to stay at the Veterans nursing home in NC that he was dumped in by his POA, my sister. Plus she had helped herself to most of the stuff at his house and was getting ready to sell the house right out from underneath him, when my dad wised up and contacted me to become his POA. Then we moved him to Indiana. Out of revenge and anger, my sister filed an incompetency petition against him and with an emergency order, an interim guardian of his finances and an interim guardian of his person was ordered. The interim guardian of his person is an agency and they have taken away my fathers rights. They forced him back to the nursing home he hates and calls a “prison”. They confiscated a cell phone I bought for him and will not let him talk or see anyone from his family. They fired a guy who let him use his phone to call me. They make decisions based on what they want to do, not what is in my fathers best interest. Legislators need to change the laws that keep people from aging in place or being who they are even with limited decision making akills. Restoring my fathers rights is something i am fighting for everyday. These contracted guardian groups are oftentimes fraudulent and ego involved & they dont and wont understand the issues that our elderly families are going through. They need help and support- not isolation and cruelty.!

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