Hamilton County Probate Court under Judge Ralph Winkler as superior guardian desperately needs better laws to ensure the ward is pre-eminent before the court, that lawyers and guardians reflect that priority. The ward’s wishes and best interest should be paramount. Sadly, that is not the case.
As the ward’s daughter, I compiled a list of complaints with substantiations about the conduct of the guardian and lawyer in a letter presented to them. Their response letter pointed out one area I was wrong about, the other issues were not satisfactorily addressed or completely ignored including three medical issues. Contained within was an offer to resign with stipulations added.
Naively, I forwarded the situation to Judge Winkler, thinking the court would be appalled also. I expected my efforts to warrant internal quality assessment at minimum. What occurred was a hearing; still thinking the court would protect our mother, my brother and I went pro se.
Response filings by the lawyer for the guardian and lawyer further shocked us. One purposefully omitted information that would have conveyed a completely opposite conclusion. Another further stipulated “the guardian is willing to resign without litigating the propriety of removal.” The audacity to withhold the truth and tell the court not to apply the law seemed to bolster our point.
The court denied removal of the guardian and lawyer saying no evidence was adduced.
The magistrate was given the evidence and laws my brother and I felt were violated, however, we found out later, it was not specifically presented as exhibit “A,” etc... nor given at the hearing to the other side, therefore, not adduced. In addition to the burden of providing evidence, researching appropriate law violations, we were expected to know how to properly adduce and find replacements for the guardian and lawyer. A policy brochure for guardianship families outlining the handling of grievance procedure would have been invaluable in our quest on our mother’s behalf.
Instead of the court acknowledging that confidence, trust, competence and effectiveness are totally lacking in this situation, they have done a huge disservice at the literal expense of their incompetent ward. The law has to contain enough discretion to rule favorably for their ward.
None of the above reflects person centered care, best interest or wishes of the ward. The National Guardianship Association has done a tremendous job formulating standards, a coordinating checklist, a code of ethics – it is remarkably well done. Precedence in court is already set using this fantastic tool. Again, this was given to the magistrate. It is time to hold this inadequate, misaligned court system liable.
Full Article & Source:
Column: A great need for more reform in guardianship