When an elderly person is conscripted into an unneeded or abusive guardianship, there is a very high likelihood that their life will end in that guardianship prematurely and—particularly in the time of a pandemic– end tragically. Why?
As one Florida judge recently admitted, guardianships are designed to last a lifetime and be hard to get out of! Once they start, they are almost always fatal.
Aside from the mad rush to jumpstart the court process by creating ETG’s (Emergency temporary Guardianships) in which the court acts with lightening speed (revealing that it actually can act rapidly), guardianship matters proceed at the pace of a massive lumbering glacier. With no incentive to efficiency and with no oversight, the process plods along like an invisible tsunami consuming all in its path–money, time, energy, resources and life and producing nothing but insider profit, family grief and mountains of records of all kinds.
One of the reasons guardianship cases go on for years and are so incredibly inefficient and long is that probate court is a perfect example of a failed bureaucracy.
A bureaucracy refers to an organization that is complex with multilayered systems and processes. These systems and procedures are designed to maintain uniformity and control within an organization and describes the established methods in large organizations or governments like courts.
When an elderly person is conscripted into an abusive guardianship, there is a very high likelihood that their life will end in that guardianship prematurely and badly. Why?
First, most wards are elderly and have only a few years left to live from the start of the process and the abuses, overmedication, isolation, and malnutrition that they are forced to endure all hasten premature death.
But it is the archaic legal bureaucratic process—totally controlled by the Judges as always—that grinds on and on without ever benefitting the ward that consumes so much effort, money and most importantly time. From the initial incapacity determination request, it is not the best interests of the ward but the schedule of the court that determines the fate of an innocent.
Hearings are postponed, long winded experts brought in to justify fees, ex parte meetings are denied to family lawyers but not to insider guardian lawyers and irritatingly the insider lawyers seem always to waste the first 90% of every hearing with meaningless nonsense and trivial issues so nothing of import ever gets done expeditiously.
And the judge? Does he push for efficiency? Does he understand that time is money and actually life? No. He is content to oversee the plodding process that consumes the remaining days of a ward. His commitment is to the bureaucratic process of guardianship destruction.
Absent any incentive to streamline the post appointment process, court dockets grow out of control, caseloads burgeon, costs skyrocket, frustration multiplies and in the end, no one is satisfied with the process, even the judges who run it. They loudly complain that they are overworked and understaffed and underfunded. It never occurs to them that if they only created fewer guardianships where they were not needed, all of their complaints would immediately disappear.
As is obvious to anyone who has ever had anything to do with the probate court, judges are not efficiency minded experts. The bureaucracy they maintain and support demands meticulous attention to detail and order when it comes to record keeping. Their bureaucracy generates massive amounts of information, though most of it– like deposition records –is worth little or nothing.
To an analytic observer, it would seem that the probate courts’ fundamental aim is to preserve itself as is and adapt only when it serves the purpose of its own bureaucratic mandate all the while demanding more funding from the people’s taxes and maintaining its iron grip on its victims who are enslaved into the probate court bureaucracy machine.
There are strong arguments for and many proposals to reform the guardianship process. They come from lawyers who wish to create a better business model for themselves. They come from legislators who would like to see reduced costs and taxes. They even come from the Supreme Court itself, the master of the bureaucracy.
I submit that the guardianship process as we know it today is fatally flawed and cannot be fixed. No amount of legislation will correct its inherent deficiencies or its self-serving, hubris filled, heavy-handed, corrupt bureaucracy. Nothing can possibly alter the voracious greed that is actually the main driver of the entire process—greed for money, power and control over another. Enslavement to its own bureaucracy dooms the system to tragic outcomes and corrupt processes enacted by uncaring robotic administrative officers unfazed by the massive harm they regularly do.
For those of us who understand this reality, we must do everything possible to warn everyone possible that the best guardianship is the one that never happens. We must spread the word that there is great danger lurking in every one of these so-called equity courts. We must strive to expose the evil that emanates from these chambers. We must do our best to prevent the next abusive guardianship because only by prevention, can there be justice. We must do our best to choke off the pipeline of victims sacrificed on the altar of so-called equity and in so doing spare countless lives that would otherwise be forfeit in the bureaucratic maelstrom of guardianship.