Monday, March 23, 2015

ABC Action News I-Team: Guardian and Attorney Bill Thousands for Years After Ward Dies

She's been dead for over two years, but her state-appointed professional guardian has been billing her for thousands the entire time.

This is just the latest in a long line of disturbing issues surrounding Florida's guardianship program.
Lynn and Alan Sayler were in Tallahassee last week, testifying  before a legislative committee calling for more reforms of the state guardianship program.
But Monday, they met with a judge, begging for Lynn's mother's guardianship case to finally be closed before more money is taken out of her estate.
“She was a tennis player. She worked out at the gym. She loved her grandkids,” said Lynn Sayler, describing her mother.
Retta Rickow died Dec. 8, 2012, just before her favorite holiday.
“Retta loved Christmas. She loved Christmas. She loved to come over and see what the kids would do,” said Rickow’s son-in-law, Alan Sayler.
But since her death, her daughter and son-in-law have been making frequent trips to court, begging a judge to close Rickow's guardianship case.
“Guardianships should be closed in 90 days or so of the ward's death,” Alan Sayler said.
“It's not about my mother. It's about money,” said Lynn Sayler.
Bills obtained by the I-Team filed after Rickow died show her guardian continued to bill thousands of dollars at a rate of $80 an hour for things like accounting, phone calls and travel.
Over the course of Rickow's guardianship, his bills total more than $50,000.
His attorney has billed nearly $144,000, with no sign of stopping.
“They're raiding the estate. My mother-in-law passed away almost two-and-a-half years ago. We just left the courthouse, where the guardian's attorney said ‘Well, we should have some more things going on,’” Alan Sayler said.
The Saylers testified before a Florida House of Representatives committee last week in support of a law that would give the state more power over guardians and the courts.
“They are trained to isolate, medicate and raid estates,” Lynn Sayler testified before the committee.
“It's a statewide problem and needs to be tightened up,” Alan Sayler also testified.
As that bill continues to travel through committees, the Saylers will likely make more trips to court.
“We want change. The judicial system is just broken,” Lynn Sayler said.
“Instead of trying to find out what's truly in the best interest of the ward, it's more what's truly in the best interest of the guardians and the guardians' attorneys and how can we bill some more,” said Alan Sayler.


Marilyn said...

Great job, Adam Walser and Lynn and Alan Sayler. Greedy guardians hold on like leeches. This is the kind of information people need to know!

NASGA Member said...

I'm so proud of you, Lynn, and I know your Mother watches you from above as well.

Anonymous said...

The crooks in my case kept my mother's estate open for years, and that was after all the money was gone. I wondered if they were somehow using her social security number. Nothing they did ever made sense, so I no longer try to figure it out. Maybe they're just dumb crooks.

Barbara said...

No wonder Adam Walser won the DuPont!

Tom said...

I agree with Marilyn. The guardians won't let go. If the judge were doing his job, he'd have sanctioned the lawyer and guardian for all this delay. It's ridiculous.

StandUp said...

When watching this interview, I was thinking of guardian Patricia Johnson's testimony of how regulated and watched over guardians in Florida are. Really Patricia Johnson? I also thought about guardian Jetta Getty's comments about families in yesterday's posting.

Looks like they're both living on a different planet. I wonder what their sense of reality really is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Adam Wasler for this fabulous piece of investigative journalism. This kind of publicity really does help rein in the abuses.