In Lockdown 1,585 Days (4 Years & 4 Months)
Dr. Lillie Sykes White achieved the American Dream and it was stolen from her. Her life was tragically taken because of greed and a broken guardianship system. Lillie's 85-year-old sister and fifty nieces and nephews had been blocked from even speaking with her for over four years after she was abducted by an improperly appointed guardian and a court-appointed attorney. With Lillie locked away and silenced, her over $4 million estate (and sizeable monthly pension) became a "cash cow" for attorneys and the estranged granddaughter whom no one else in the family knows. She may not even be a blood relative.
After eight years of being attacked under a fraudulent guardianship and over four years locked away from loved ones, Lillie died alone on December 31, 2020 at the age of 92. Her sister, nieces and nephews were not told of her death at the time. Days before, her sister, and only living sibling, had been asking to speak with her and was ignored. She emailed the attorneys and called the facility multiple times but was not put through because she did not have the "passcode." She had a feeling something was wrong and desperately wanted to hear her sister's voice. They were the last of eight siblings.
Two weeks earlier, on December 16th, the granddaughter filed a Caveat with the court obviously anticipating Lillie's death. The family only found out that Lillie had died by chance. What happened? Did they over-medicate her to close out the case before the end of the year? Did she get COVID-19 at the facility where she was being held? If they knew she was dying, why didn't they at least let her sister speak with her then? The granddaughter's attorneys finally informed her after she had filed yet another motion for telephonic visitation. If the sister had not forced their hand, would they have ever told her Lillie had died?
How Did This Happen?
Originally from a small town in North Carolina, Lillie worked all of her life since she was six years old. She earned a doctorate and had a 30-year career as an educator, including Supervisor of Instruction for public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. Over twenty years ago, she retired to Palm Coast, Florida with her husband, who was also a respected educator. He died in 2003, and in 2006, she created a Revocable Living Trust, which provided Lillie as sole beneficiary during her lifetime and named her son as a contingent beneficiary along with her estranged granddaughter and her children.
In 2012, at 83 years old, Lillie was living independently enjoying her retirement in Palm Coast, Florida--cooking, shopping and driving her little sports Mercedes. Little did she know that her life would begin to end after a visit from a family friend.
The case started with fraud. This friend filed for guardianship stating he was Lillie's "nephew" and did not name her sister or anyone else in the family as next of kin. He then joined forces with Lillie's estranged granddaughter who had just filed for bankruptcy. She retained "The Firm"-- a large law firm in Orlando that knew how to manipulate guardianship laws.
Even after a judge said there was no need for guardianship, The Firm launched a multi-year campaign to strip Lillie of her rights so the granddaughter could control the Trust and the attorneys could benefit from the estate--all under the guise of "protecting" Lillie. In essence, they targeted a senior to steal her money. The granddaughter had already put her name on Lillie's Trust accounts without her knowledge and then sent a letter saying she had taken over as Successor Trustee. Yet, Lillie had not given up trusteeship and was of sound mind so that act was in bad faith.
When Lillie found out about the granddaughter's actions, she took her out of the Will and Trust. This was before any incapacity ruling. That 2012 Trust is said to have not been funded. Lillie did not have access to her own accounts because the granddaughter had taken the Trust assets "hostage"--and even paid the Firm from those assets.
The granddaughter kept claiming Lillie was "paranoid" even though she had testified in court that she didn't really know her grandmother and had no basis for those statements. Nevertheless, as a result of an extremely flawed incapacity evaluation, Lillie was placed under guardianship. The Orange County Court removed the granddaughter as Successor Trustee and named Lillie's sister Limited Guardian and Trustee per Lillie's direct request in court. Although not ideal, Lillie could still live a somewhat normal life surrounded by family.
The exploitation escalated when the case moved to Flagler County. The Flagler County Judge disregarded the Orange County rulings. Within months, The Firm was able to get three court agents appointed (all paid from Lillie's assets) and the sister suspended without a hearing or due process. Their actions were coordinated. Even Lillie's own court-appointed attorney was acting against her and pushing to strip away more rights. Lillie did not stand a chance.
On August 30, 2016, Lillie left home with her niece to go to the doctor. When the doctor's receptionist called the niece into another room to fill out papers, the Emergency Temporary Guardian and Attorney ad Litem abducted Lillie against her will. There was no notice, danger, emergency or justification. They ignored an Injunction Motion that was already on the Judge's desk, as well as two police reports stating Lillie was safe in her home. Lillie still retained the right to choose with whom to socialize and had previously made it clear she wanted to be with her sister and niece. Her written and stated wishes were to remain in her home. That did not matter.
The court agents refused to disclose Lillie's location even to the sister's attorney. The nieces tried to file a missing person claim but the Deputy Sheriff said she was not "missing" since the guardian knew where she was. They called multiple Florida agencies and were assured that Lillie was "fine." Three weeks later, she was put under Plenary Guardianship, removing the rest of her rights in a closed hearing.
Even though Lillie had a history of testifying in court in Orange County, the Attorney ad Litem waived Lillie's appearance at her own incapacity hearing, and the sister and nieces were blocked from testifying. Lillie's niece had been her family companion and caregiver for five years--sharing meals, cooking, going to movies, celebrating holidays. Yet, the Flagler County Judge did not think her testimony would be relevant.
After "taking possession of the body" (i.e. abducting and isolating Lillie), The Firm and court agents could say or do anything. They got Lillie's estate plan voided and reverted it back to benefiting the granddaughter (and thus themselves). They also crafted a new narrative--that the family was "agitating" Lillie. With Lillie silenced and under their control, they then took away the "interested party" status of the sister and niece so they could not see certain legal filings and blocked everyone from any contact with Lillie. They made countless moves in secret--all allowed by the equity court.
After two years of Lillie being hidden, the family found her through private investigators. She was in a locked down facility an hour away from her home (which was sold without her knowledge). Around the same time, the court-appointed guardian, who had been under investigation by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, suddenly resigned. The family thought they had caught a break and the nightmare was coming to an end.
The Forbidden Reunion
Video Highlights from November 2018 Visit
©2019 Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. All rights reserved. For media inquiries, call 212-901-6913 or email elderdignity(at)hotmail.com. The majority of the footage has been withheld from public view to date.
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In November 2018, Lillie’s sister and niece flew to Florida from New York to try and see Lillie before The Firm knew they had located her. The reunion was so joyous that the staff at the location took video.
Lillie was delighted. She said that she had no idea she was being hidden from her sister and entire family, and that her assets were being rapidly spent down. She simply thought no one was visiting her. She said that she wanted to leave and had been "dreaming every night about going somewhere" with her sister. The staff said that she "brags about her sister in New York all the time." She said she wanted to regain her rights back such as the ability to travel. She said she wanted to see and speak with her sister and nieces and nephews. She thanked her sister and niece for trying to "make it right."
That was the last time they saw Lillie. Although details of the visit and existence of the video were filed with the Flagler County Court, nothing changed. The Firm was apparently telling officials that Lillie “must have been coached” for the video even though her family had not seen her for two years and her statements were consistent with her wishes before her abduction.
Behind closed doors and without anyone else in the family being notified, the Flagler County Court named the estranged granddaughter Guardian and Trustee even though the Orange County Court had removed her as Trustee AND Lillie had testified that the granddaughter was victimizing her. It made no sense but there was no chance to object.
Even during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the guardian did not allow phone calls with Lillie by her sister, nieces and nephews. On September 6, 2020, Lillie turned 92. When her sister and nieces called to sing to her, they were told they couldn't. When Lillie's sister emailed the attorneys to speak with Lillie during the holiday season in December 2020, they ignored her even though they apparently knew Lillie was dying.
After you watch the overview video above, check out the additional segments below to get to know Lillie. These videos were filmed the week of July 25, 2016 by Lillie's niece, Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy—a Harvard Business School-trained strategist, award-winning author and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. The videos demonstrate quite an opposite picture than what had been painted in the court documents. Lillie was not incapacitated and she was very clear on her views. Watch and form your own opinion.
Additional Videos from July 2016:
In Lillie's Voice: Earning & Saving
In Lillie's Voice: Plans For The Future
In Lillie's Voice: At Home In Florida
In Lillie's Voice: On Elder Exploitation
In Lillie's Voice: Growing Up In NC
In Lillie's Voice: The Family "Friend"
In Lillie's Voice: Granddaughter
In Lillie's Voice: The Right To Vote
In Lillie's Voice: The Temporary Guardian
In Lillie's Voice: The Right to Socialize
©2016 Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. All rights reserved.
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