Court-appointed professional guardian Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt broke state law in cases involving disabled individuals and seniors citizens, often with the help of her husband — then sitting Circuit Court Judge Martin Colin — according to a blistering complaint by the state’s new guardianship office.
The complaint is the first of its kind by the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, which was formed in 2016 by the state Legislature in the wave of criticisms about professional guardians from families. The state seeks as much as $190,000 in fees from Savitt stemming from 13 cases and to suspend or revoke her guardianship registration.
Families repeatedly say Savitt puts her own monetary wants above carrying for the needs of her vulnerable wards, alleging she “abused her powers as a guardian” and violated a court order that “resulted in a mismanagement of funds.”
The guardianship’s stated “respondent violated the prohibition against acting in a manner contrary to her ward’s best interests.”
Professional guardians are appointed by a judge for citizens found to be unable to care for themselves, they are incapacitated. Most of the time a family member is appointed but a whole industry exists to care for these individuals when relatives can’t get along or are unavailable.
Advocates for reform say professional guardians — and the attorneys who represent them — often serve only to drain the life savings of the incapacitated individual. Families trying to get guardians removed must spend their own money and watch as the guardian uses their loved one’s assets to fight them.
When it comes to Palm Beach County, Elizabeth Savitt serves as the poster child of how guardianship works to hurt families and their vulnerable loved ones entrusted to the courts, said Sam Sugar, the founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship