The Allegedly Incapacitated Person, AIP, usually a senior who may have been showing signs of memory loss or dementia or even a mild short-term illness who is accused of not being able to make their own decisions, typically by a dysfunctional family or family member through a hired gun lawyer who secretly approaches the probate court claiming that there is an emergency where the Ward might be in danger of losing their money or life and demanding an emergency temporary guardianship.
The Ward— the piece of chattel or property who used to be a human being with rights but whose rights have been stripped away by the judicial system rendering that person a piece of property totally controlled and owned by a another human being who is their new owner and substitute decision-maker in all matters and who has absolute uncontested unfettered and unsupervised control of the body and assets of their Ward.
Probate Court, an administrative court designed to deal primarily with the distribution of the assets of a dead person. In order for the probate court to take authority for the distribution of assets of a living human being, they first must be made legally dead, this is the process of guardianship. Rules of evidence do not apply in this court, there are no jury trials in this court, and frequent one-sided private ex parte meetings particularly with court favorite lawyers are extremely common. Contested probate cases can drag on for decades during which times estates are drained.
Guardians (called Conservators in other States)in the state of Florida are only required to pass a 40 hour Internet course and corresponding test. After paying a small fee they are then certified as guardians. They have no special education, they have no license, they need not have any experience of any kind, but they are instructed upon certification to go out and find wards. They can be found in assisted-living facilities, senior centers, hospitals or any place where senior citizens can be found. They can be found giving free seminars on financial planning where unwitting seniors divulge all of their information and are therefore marked for future guardianship. There are two types of guardians in Florida public guardians which take care of poor people by contract with the statewide public guardianship office, and private for-profit guardians who troll for cases of wealthy people any one of which could be worth millions in fees. There are 560 professional guardians and 440 public guardians in the state of Florida in 2015.Their numbers grow yearly.
Attorneys for guardians. Once granted a guardianship all professional guardians lawyer up. All fees for the Guardian and their lawyers are taken from the estate of the Ward. In effect when family members protest the guardianship, the estate of their loved one is used to fight them and there is no limit to the amount of money that could be spent on legal and Guardian fees during these litigations. These attorneys typically will bring on entire teams of experts, accountants, consultants and others of their buddies to help plunder the estate all in the name of protecting the best interests of the Ward.
Clerks of the Court are supposed to keep a close eye on the proceedings and keep records and despite recent legislation to give them power to investigate suspicious guardianships, they are typically bystanders without any real authority to intervene
Court Reporters should be present at every hearing but official court reporters not hired by you have been known to create reports which deviate from actual facts and are sometimes suspiciously modified.
Then there’s You and your Lawyer. You should expect to be endlessly vilified in court particularly if you have been the one caring for your loved one. Be prepared to be accused of everything from physical abuse, undue influence, exploitation, neglect, fiduciary misconduct to outright thievery and even attempted murder in court filings. In the hundreds of cases that our group has evaluated it is typical to go through a series of lawyers each of whom disappoints in a different way and each of whom is completely and totally ineffective in representing you before the probate court. The stacked probate deck leads to a condition referred to as the legal abuse syndrome which is a form of PTSD. Nearly all litigants in contested probate develop one form or another of this syndrome.
Other second-tier players include pharmacies, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted-living facilities, used car salesman, real estate agents, antique stores, jewelry stores, appraisers, doctors, nurses,home health agencies, durable medical equipment companies, storage companies, moving companies, deposition companies, copying companies, file storage companies all of whom are claiming to work with the best interests of the Ward but who profit very handsomely from the business referred to them by the Ward’s owner, the Guardian.