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Appellate court upholds guardian appointment

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the appointment of a third-party guardian for an incompetent adult because a disinterested person may hopefully prevent unnecessary disputes caused by mistrust between the woman's children and husband.

In In the matter of the guardianship of Winona E. Brewer, adult; Debra J. Ault, Rebecca L. Pavone, and Elizabeth S. Elia-Gold v. Robert Brewer, No. 36A04-0907-CV-407, Winona Brewer's adult daughters appealed the appointment of Susan Bevers as guardian of Winona's estate. Their mother had married Robert Brewer later in life and kept separate accounts from Robert. She relied on the assistance of her daughters, Debra Ault, Rebecca Pavone, and Elizabeth Elia-Gold to help take care of her home in California and pay bills.

After suffering a stroke, Winona signed a general power of attorney document appointing her daughters as co-attorneys-in-fact. Nearly a month later, Robert filed a petition to be appointed as Winona's guardian; Ault then filed a petition to be appointed guardian. The trial court appointed Bevers as a guardian ad litem, who determined a guardian would be in Winona's best interest given how at some times she would be cognizant and other times she would "fade off."

The daughters then argued that appointing a guardian wasn't necessary because the power of attorney had been established and no petition had been filed to amend or revoke it. The trial court found Winona was incompetent when she signed the POA document, appointed Bevers as guardian, and allowed her to merge many of Winona's accounts into one to manage.

The daughters argued that the trial court abused its discretion by appointing a guardian because there was a durable power of attorney. Additionally, they argued that if a guardian was properly appointed, the trial court abused its discretion by not appointing one of the designated co-attorneys-in-fact.

But the general POA document wasn't valid because Winona had been found incompetent by her doctor just three days before signing it despite her apparent coherence the day she signed it. Bevers also found Winona's understanding was intermittent and noted that Winona didn't want Ault to be her guardian, which contradicted portions of the general POA, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

The daughters are also estopped from denying their mother's incompetence because of the evidence showing she was incompetent just days before signing.

"Therefore, (Winona) made no nomination in a power of attorney that would make applicable the considerations of Indiana Code Section 30-5-3-4, or the priorities favoring attorneys-in-fact in Indiana Code Section 29-3-5-4 and 5," she wrote.

Also, given the hostility between Robert and the daughters, it's in Winona's best interest to have a third party appointed guardian to avoid a protracted legal fight.

The appellate court also affirmed the trial court authorization that Bevers could unify Winona's accounts for administration under her authority as guardian over the estate.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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