Hon. MARY FINGAL SCHULTE

CONSERVATORSHIPS/GUARDIANSHIPS/ELDER LAW

Representative Cases


CONSERVATORSHIPS AND ELDER ABUSE


Financial, emotional, physical abuse
Substituted judgment petitions
Family disputes over conservatorships
Professional fiduciaries vs family members
Contested conservatorship proceedings involving public figures

  • Probate Code section 2357: “Court ordered medical treatment.” Issue of whether hysterectomy would be allowed by the court, not to sterilize patient but to remedy a medical condition.

  • Siblings arguing over conservatorship of mother. Other siblings took “loans” and gifts from mom, issues of undue influence and lack of capacity.

  • Siblings dueling over conservatorship of father, extremely dysfunctional family members, with visitation orders made. Also involved multiple complex accountings and attorney fee orders where there were numerous objections and counter objections.

  • Catastrophic injury to wife and mother, issue of professional vs family member as conservator.

  • Accounting of an inexperienced family member who was conservator, and who made innocent commingling of funds. Objections filed by other family member.

  • Dispute involving multiple fee petitions and objections as to approval of fees in conservatorship matter, analysis as to whether compensation is to the advantage, benefit, and best interests of the conservatee.

    GUARDIANSHIPS

  • Handled contested guardianships in high profile cases (children who lost parent due to homicide by other parent—“Seal Beach Shooter Case” and other cases)

  • Handled Grandparent and family visitation issues

  • Petition to terminate guardianship denied, but awarded visitation to mom, as requested by her and teenage daughter. Mom had two kids when a teenager, by a 27 year old.

  • Grandmother was guardian, stipulated to terminate guardianship and was awarded visitation. Issue involving termination of visitation order due to toxic relationship between mom and daughter, finding and what was in best interests of the children (2 girls)

  • Finding of exclusive and continuing jurisdiction in the state of Ohio, under the UCCJEA, of a baby girl residing in Ohio. Court made a finding that neither the adoption proceeding nor the termination of parental rights proceeding fall within the UCCJEA and that the guardianship proceeding cannot be bootstrapped into the adoption/termination of parental rights matter to confer jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. Child living with proposed adoptive mother for 2 years. Paternity was established in Ohio. Petitioner/guardian/prospective adoptive mother sought to terminate father’s rights over his objections.

  • Grandparents competing for guardianship of children. Petition to fix residence out of state.

  • Dispute involving request by mom for visitation, guardians resisted, but they ultimately adopted the children.

  • Grandmothers were sharing custody, under an informal arrangement, and issue was whether there was a need for a formal guardianship as mom was bonded to child.

  • Parents absent from life of child, issue of Court ordered expanded visitation to non-custodial family.

  • Child’s mother died in November of 2007 in Michigan, where she had gone to live and work. From 2004-2007 child’s father saw him every few months. Child had two half-sisters, living with his father. The mother of these girls apparently pretty much abandoned them and child’s father took care of them. Child’s father was never informed of the mother’s death until the petition was filed in April 2009. While he clearly could have done more to be in child’s life before that, he maintained contact. Dispute over guardianship petition of maternal grandparents who had been de facto parents.

  • Competing petitions by grandmothers, one of whom was the only adult member of her household without a significant criminal record.

  • Highly contentious guardianship matter involved multiple petitions. Child went to live with guardian within weeks of his birth. Father was in prison. 3 years after guardianship was established, he got out of prison and received visitation on Sundays for 4 hours. Competing petitions to terminate parental rights, expand visitation, terminate guardianship. Guardian died and no one told the father.

  • Dispute involving grandparent petition for guardianship where child resided with mom.​

  • Petition for modification of limited conservatorship and termination of general probate conservatorship. Issues of the two types of proceedings, and powers vested in conservators.  The petition alleged that the limited conservatee hadPrader-Willi syndrome, which impaired her ability to make critical decisions involving living arrangements, finances, medical care, diet, and social and contractual relationships. Issues of powers under Probate Code Section 2351.5 (b)

  • Petition to establish conservatorship over a granddaughter of a famous figure.   She had suffered a brain aneurism and had been on a temporary conservatorship. Involved protracted litigation in Orange and Los Angeles counties between family members and trustees of granddaughter’s assets.  Issues of substantial ability to manage her own financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.  Family sought conservatorship of person and estate.

Judge, Orange County Superior Court (Ret.)