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Establishing guardianships requires careful planning

Florida residents with family members or loved ones considered disabled and sick would do well to make careful plans with regard to matters of incapacity. In cases where incapacity planning is not properly handled, disabled or elderly people may find that guardianship proceedings lead to a complete loss of control over their assets and estates. With that in mind, West Palm Beach residents may be interested in the case of a Florida doctor who is fighting his mother's incapacity declaration, which he says has led to the near dissolution of her $2 million dollar estate.

The Florida doctor is fighting for his 72-year-old, widowed mother. According to the doctor, his mother was declared incapacitated in a secret ex parte hearing, which is a "one side only" hearing. It is the doctor's contention that this incapacity declaration has brought about the loss of his mother's estate. He claims she was inappropriately put on a schizophrenia medication that is normally contraindicated for the elderly, as the drug is known to cause heart disturbances. The doctor further says that his mother was not at the time incapacitated, was able to go to church and buy her own groceries, and even that the word "incapacitated" has no medical meaning.

The doctor also alleges that probate judges and lawyers were complicit in fraud. In court, he showed evidence indicating that a probate lawyer and the court-appointed guardian were billing the elderly woman's estate. He further claims that the judges were well aware of what he perceives to be estate fraud.

There are many personal cases and testimonials of guardianships or incapacitation planning gone wrong, and fraudulent guardianship can be difficult to prove in the legal system. Still, the solid establishment of guardianship can be extremely important in protecting the estates and assets of individuals who are deemed incapacitated. The problems faced by this particular Florida doctor may serve as a kind of cautionary tale for other Florida residents with similar concerns. Helping loved ones establish guardianship can alleviate future worries over estate depletion or, as the present case shows, suspected fraud.

Source:, "Too often, death is the only way out of guardianship gulag," Barbara Hollingsworth, Nov. 08, 2011

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