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Guardianship dispute spills over into Florida

Probate litigation over a family guardianship found its way into Florida when police apprehended a daughter for interfering with custody orders following a three-week search across state lines. As a result of the incident, the court overseeing the probate litigation denied the daughter access to estate assets, even as it approved gifts of cash to the mother's other two children.

The probate court appointed a guardian when the mother became incapacitated by Alzheimer's disease. The daughter claims that her mother expressed a desire before the guardian's appointment to live with the daughter in Florida, but attorneys for the guardian say otherwise. According to the attorneys, the daughter's real motivation lies in acquiring access to her mother's multi-million-dollar estate.

Litigation over the mother's guardianship extends back over several years with each of the children battling for control over the estate. Even though the probate court already decided that the daughter would not be an appropriate guardian, the daughter maintains that the court-ordered placement goes against her mother's true desires and that other family members are misappropriating estate assets.

Guardianship can provide a valuable tool for taking care of a family member who is incapacitated, but this lengthy and complex dispute illustrates the importance of preparing a comprehensive estate plan early in life.

A comprehensive estate plan setting forth the mother's wishes and directions for the administration of her estate might have helped this family avoid divisive litigation that continues to drain estate assets that could otherwise be used to provide for the mother's care.

Source: Milford, "Woman gets accelerated rehabilitation for taking mom to Florida,"  Jill K. Dion, Feb. 28, 2012

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