From the Mt Pleasant, Texas Daily Tribune – serving Titus, Franklin and Camp counties
A motion has been filed in Titus County to remove guardian in the case of Ann Walton James.
Records show the motion to remove guardian was filed on behalf of James’ great-niece, Barbara Ann Reynolds.
Last month, former Titus County Clerk Dianne Norris Owens spoke at length about that guardianship case at the county commission meeting.
Owens’ public comments on June 22 mirror statements set out in the motion to remove guardian filed on behalf of Reynolds in Titus County June 25.
The motion filed on behalf of Reynolds calls for the guardian that was appointed for James in 2013, James Taylor – Family and Court Services Inc., to be removed as guardian and assume all costs and attorneys’ fees associated with this removal.
Ann Walton James, 97, lives in a local assisted living facility.
Court records show that, in June, 2013, a local banking officer filed a letter with the court requesting the court open a temporary guardianship application for the elderly woman. According to the letter, the banking officer expressed concern for James’ well-being after the banking officer had met with her. The letter described James as “blind” and “quite vulnerable, both financially and physically.”
In August, 2013, according to statements in the motion filed last week on behalf of Reynolds, Taylor – Family and Court Services, Inc. filed an application for guardianship of Ann Walton James “alleging that no members of the Ward’s family could be located, despite sending an email the very next day on August 27, 2013, informing the attorney ad litem in the case of his more than two-year history with the ward and his knowledge of the existence of a son and a grandson of the ward.”
The motion also reads that, “No notice was given to the Ward’s family as to the filing of the guardianship, and none of the family members were given the opportunity to participate in the proceedings.”
The court appointed Family and Court Services, Inc., James Taylor’s company, as the guardian of the elderly woman’s estate on Dec. 23, 2013, according to statements made in the motion filed last week.
The motion calls to question the amount of bond put up by Taylor and his company, and states that Taylor “has restricted” (the ward’s) family members from visiting with her; has not filed an annual account or annual report; and alleges that the guardian “has expended a substantial sum of money out of the ward’s estate.”
The motion cites grounds for removal of guardianship because the guardian has: failed to properly account and properly report, and breached his fiduciary duty by failing to adequately protect the assets of the estate by failing to post an adequate bond and failing to enter a proper safekeeping agreement; and has attempted to alienate the ward from her family; “is believed to have misapplied, embezzled, or misused assets belonging to the ward”; and “grossly mismanaged the Ward’s estate.”
The motion calls for the court to assign a statutory probate judge to hear the case.
Records show the certificate of service of the motion filed last week was delivered to Taylor’s attorney, William B. Harrell of Texarkana, and signed for Reynolds, the movant, by Houston attorney Don Ford.
Ford was seated on the state of Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission, which oversees guardianship matters, in September and continues to be listed as a commission member on the commission website.
Ford has been serving as legal counsel for another local case, representing Denise Reichert and her daughter Maegan Reichert Hotaling in guardianship and probate matters regarding the estate of the late Dr. Oscar Michael Reichert, who died May 4. Denise Reichert is ex-wife of the late Reichert.
James Taylor is a party in that case as well.
In September, 2014, a complaint was filed by Denise Reichert against Family and Court Services Inc. and James Taylor with the State of Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission, concerning Taylor and his business’ appointment and action as guardian ad litem of her (Denise Reichert’s) ex- husband’s estate.
The TJBCC dismissed Denise Reichert’s allegations a few weeks later, calling them “unfounded.”