Just about everybody who came into contact with Edward Ravenscroft in 2008 concluded that he needed some serious help.
Thanks to a bad crack habit, Ravenscroft, then 47, had burned through more than $1 million in two short years — with little to show for it. As an heir to the Abbott Laboratories fortune, Ravenscroft was rich, but he was spending his money way too quickly, and stupidly.
In court papers, Ravenscroft admitted that, in addition to his drug problem, he was mentally ill. His defense lawyer wrote that Ravenscroft described himself as bipolar and obsessive-compulsive. Three different doctors agreed. So did the court-appointed psychiatrist who examined him in jail.
That diagnosis may have made all the difference. Under a program launched by the county's presiding judge, criminal defendants with mental illness end up in a special court to assess their competency, and then, if need be, referred to probate court for help. Probate court deals with people who are legally incapacitated: anyone who can't take care of themselves or manage their finances because of mental illness, old age, or disability.
Sent to probate in January 2009, Ravenscroft was assigned a guardian ad litem to fight for his best interests, even if Ravenscroft had no idea what they were. (In this case, that entailed helping Ravenscroft get well enough to check into rehab.) As Ravenscroft's case progressed and he continued to spiral out of control, he also got a guardian (to take care of him), a conservator (to watch over his money), and a lawyer (to express his desires in court).
And then, slowly, Edward Ravenscroft got better.
Today, he's been sober eight months. He takes his medication and is preparing to live on his own. He'd been in probate for a little over a year when Probate Court Judge Karen O'Connor terminated his guardianship last month. He is, she said, capable of taking care of himself.
Sounds like a happy ending, right?
Not if you're Grant Goodman. The Phoenix-based attorney is convinced that the whole thing was a scam to steal Ravenscroft's money.
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