In the recent decision of Jasser v. Saadeh, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal determined that a ward, with an emergency temporary guardian who has been granted all of the ward’s legal rights, lacks legal capacity to enter into trust agreements. Any trust agreement entered into by the ward is void ab initio.
Guardianship proceedings were initiated against Karim Saadeh, and the Florida probate and guardianship court appointed an emergency temporary guardian (ETG). In appointing an emergency temporary guardian for Saadeh, the trial court removed all of Saadeh’s rights, except his right to vote. The order appointing the emergency temporary guardian delegated to the emergency temporary guardian the power to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of Saadeh with the exception of Saadeh’s right to vote.
During the time of Saadeh’s emergency temporary guardianship, Saadeh’s emergency temporary guardian (ETG) directed Saadeh to sign a trust agreement. After Saadeh’s execution of the trust, an examining committee was appointed to determine Saadeh’s incapacity. In all other respects, the temporary guardianship continued, and Saadeh did not regain any of his rights. Upon the reports of the examining committee, which unanimously determined that Saadeh was competent, the Florida court dismissed the petition for guardianship.
Saadeh filed a petition to revoke the trust that Saadeh had signed under the direction of Saadeh’s emergency temporary guardian. The trial court found that when it appointed the emergency temporary guardian and granted her all of the ward’s legal rights, it thereby removed them from the ward. Thus, Saadeh had no legal capacity to enter into the trust agreements. Therefore, the trust agreement was void ab initio. Thus, even though Saadeh was ultimately determined competent, because Saadeh had signed the trust during the time period when his power to exercise his legal rights had been delegated to the emergency temporary guardian (ETG), Saadeh had no legal right to sign the trust.
The Florida court reasoned: “[A]t the time of the execution of the trust, the right to contract had been removed from Saadeh…Thus, because Saadeh had no legal right to execute the trust, the trust was invalid and void.” Even though Saadeh had actual capacity to execute the trust, Saadeh had no legal capacity.
Emergency Temporary Guardianship (ETG)