FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – An independent attorney will oversee and manage the estate of missing Fort Lauderdale millionaire, Guma Aguiar.
Broward County Judge Mark Speiser appointed attorney Tom Panza as conservator of Aguiar’s estate while Aguiar’s wife, Jamie, and mother, Ellen, argue over who should ultimately control the estate valued at $100 million dollars.
The court hearing Tuesday was the second time in less than a week that attorneys for Jamie Aguiar and Ellen Aguiar squared off in a Broward County courtroom.
Jamie’s attorneys argued that she and the couple’s four children should have control of the estate.
“The trust agreement and the will make it clear that my client and her children are the overwhelming beneficiaries of Mr. Guma Aguiar’s estate,” said attorney Al Frevola.
Frevola added that the judge’s decision was a victory for their client because it removes Ellen Aguiar from the picture.
“The most important thing is Ellen Aguilar is no longer going to be involved,” Frevola said outside of court.
But Ellen Aguiar countered that her son, a 35 year old millionaire and philanthropist who made his fortune in the oil and gas industry, didn’t want his wife anywhere near his fortune.
“In three separate documents he asked me to help him protect his interests,” Ellen Aguiar told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
She added that she refuses to sit quietly on the sidelines.
“I’m just here to guard and protect what I believe would be his wishes,” Ellen Aguiar said.
Frevola said that Guma signed the documents his mother has while he was in a mental institution. Jamie Aguilar’s lawyer William Scherer told a Broward judge last Thursday that Guma Aguiar was a “troubled man with bipolar disorder who was hospitalized here and in Israel.”
Ellen Aguiar said everyone is losing sight of the most important point — that Guma Aguiar is missing and no one knows what became of him.
“My son is gone to me at this point,” she said. “That should be my primary focus — finding out what happened to him and rather than that everything is about control and domination.”
Surveillance video released by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department shows Aguiar just before he disappeared from his Rio Vista home on June 19. The video also shows Aguiar in his boat heading out to sea in rough waters later that day.
His boat was recovered hours later but Aguiar has not been seen since. The Coast Guard searched for Aguiar but found nothing.
Police say they found no evidence of foul play. They have classified Aguilar as missing.
In court Tuesday attorneys for both sides presented lists to the judge of properties Guma Aguiar owns in Israel. There are at least 2 dozen homes.
The attorney for Ellen Aguiar said a management company checks those homes routinely and said there’s been no signs of Aguiar in any of those homes.
It’s clear that the court hearings and mysterious disappearance are taking a toll on the parties involved. At a court hearing last week Jamie Aguiar wept throughout.
On Tuesday his mother said she is fighting to maintain faith that her son will one day return.
“Right now it’s just hope against hope,” Ellen Aguiar said. “We’re not going to give up.”