If your family becomes entangled in a contested Guardianship, you will be challenged in many ways. One particularly difficult challenge is the blizzard of documents generated by the Probate Court process, often referred to as “papering” or “litigation by the pound.”
Every one of these documents is evidentiary and it is crucial to retain them and file them away for future easy access. No lay person is prepared for this amount of document preservation, yet if you lose track of documents it can hurt you in court.
We strongly recommend a high speed scanner and logical filing system be used from the outset to retain and file all documents in your case. Files should be regularly backed up as well.
This small step can make a very difficult time a little bit easier.
Find a lawyer who is an expert in probate law. This sounds very easy but in truth our experience shows that the very lawyers who have the most experience and the best track record in probate actually often work both sides of the fence and are just as likely to harm you as to help you; by connecting with AAAPG members you will have the ability to network with other victims who have had at least some degree of success with the small number of honest lawyers who at least represented them well and did not double cross them at the last second as we have seen so very often.
Consider going into therapy especially if litigation goes on and on. Probate litigation can grind you into dust in a very short period time and talking to a professional about the stresses involved can be life altering.
Recruit family members to your struggle. Even though the best deterrent to guardianship is the resolution of family disputes long before guardianship is even considered, every family member who sides with you will be a source of great comfort to you and may even make it possible to shorten litigation with family mediation.
Turn to your faith for comfort. Engage your clergy in your struggle.
Through dint of hard experience, we have learned wrinkles in the law that may be of use.
Immediately upon the establishment of the guardianship, if you intend to fight it, you must declare it “adversarial” to be able to attack the process down the road on the basis of prevention of due process. Discuss this in detail with you lawyer.
You might want to demand a Public guardian rather than fee for service guardian (if your state offers Public guardianship – this varies state-to-state.) You may want to immediately demand a different guardian.
You should immediately demand recognition of any and all Advance Directives (medical and legal), Power of Attorneys (POAs), wills and other documents so they do not get lost in the shuffle.