Stories of Florida Guardianship Abuses Continue to Mount
An important consideration when making an estate plan is avoiding the potential need for a guardianship if you become incapable of managing your own affairs. Setting up a trust and other estate planning documents, such as a trust and a power of attorney, can go a long way towards protecting your rights. Unfortunately, even with the best-laid estate plan, family members who disagree with your decisions may still try to use the legal system to undermine you.
85-Year-Old Woman Said Court-Appointed Guardian “Took the Wedding Ring Off Her Finger”
In previous posts, we have looked at how the guardianship system in Florida often harms vulnerable adults. There are far too many cases where court-appointed guardians have committed fraud or abuse against the wards they are charged with protecting. And based on more recent reporting from WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay, the problem of guardianship abuse appears to be getting worse.
According to WFTS, Florida’s Office of Public and Professional Guardians, a state agency established in 2016 to monitor guardianship abuse, has only issued 19 “warning letters” over the past three years. And none of these warnings led to the revocation of any guardian’s registration, meaning they are free to continue serving as guardians. However, the agency told WFTS that it had “132 open investigations” still pending.
Meanwhile, stories of guardianship abuse continue to mount. In another report, WFTS pointed to the case of an 85-year-old woman now working its way through the Florida courts. The woman, Alice Yaniscavitch, previously established a living trust as part of her estate plan. But her other daughter then filed a legal challenge to the trust and asked a judge to impose a guardianship on her mother, alleging her sister “was financially exploiting their mother and endangering her health.”
A judge agreed to freeze the trust’s accounts. Yaniscavitch has appealed that decision. She told WFTS that the court-appointed guardian “took all of [her] jewelry,” purportedly for “safekeeping.” The guardian “even took the wedding ring off her finger.”
To make matters worse, the daughter who filed the guardianship petition then put Yaniscavitch in an assisted living facility, where she sustained multiple injuries. Yaniscavitch later told a judge that she would not obey an order to live in a nursing home and that the court would “have to put me in jail.” According to WFTS, Yaniscavitch is presently living in a rehabilitation center while recovering from the injuries she incurred at the assisted living home.
Speak with a Fort Myers Guardianship Lawyer Today
A critical lesson from these types of cases is that estate plans do not enforce themselves. Especially if you have relatives family member who are determined to impose their own will upon you–and your property–you may find it necessary to defend your estate planning decisions in court. An experienced Fort Myers guardianship attorney can help. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our estate planning team. We can assist you with a variety of legal matters related to probate and guardianships.