Jeff Rapkin Discusses Guardian Advocacy on WCCF's Charlotte County Speaks Radio Show with Host Ken Lovejoy

Jeff Rapkin - Interview

Jeff Rapkin was interviewed on Charlotte County Speaks Radio Show with Ken Lovejoy on News Radio 1580 WCCF on Monday, June 17.

Jeff spoke about how Guardian Advocacy Orders provided through F.S.§393 can protect the developmentally disabled, the most vulnerable members of our society. He shared information about the free forms with detailed step-by-step instructions for parents who want to become guardian advocates of their disabled children by visiting https://www.rapkinlegal.com/guardian-advocacy

For those who missed the live broadcast, you can listen to the full interview with Jeff Rapkin here:

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Jeff Rapkin Full Interview

Ken Lovejoy: News Radio 1580 and 100 .9 FM WCCF. This is Charlotte County Speaks. Ken Lovejoy with you on a Monday morning. 9:10 is the time.
Phone lines open at 9412061580 toll free 8884411580.
You can email us the address ccspeaks@live.com. Miss a show. Find them all at WCCFradio.com. Just scroll down until you see the podcast section and there we all are.
I’d like to welcome to the studio attorney Jeffrey Rappkin. How you doing, sir? Good morning. Welcome to the show.
Jeff Rapkin: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
Ken Lovejoy: Now you are running for a county judge in group one,
correct?
Jeff Rapkin: That is correct.
Ken Lovejoy: So tell our listeners all about Jeff Rapkin. Where do you come from? How long have you been a lawyer? Why are you choosing to jump into the judge race? Et cetera, et cetera.
Jeff Rapkin: Okay. That’s a heck of an opening. Very wide-ended. All right. So I’ve been practicing law. Actually, it’s been 30 years. I was a legal intern in a law school. It’s a 30 years this year. God help me. I’ve been practicing law for 30 years. And I think it was time. Both my parents kind of talked me into it and they both said they’d helped me. They both passed away in the last year, you know. And so, but I’m gonna continue on with it. 
Ken Lovejoy: But sadly, that gave you a boost.
Jeff Rapkin: It did. It did actually gave me a boost to do this. For the last part of my career, people have been telling me I should do this. And County Judge is a good fit for me. 
Ken Lovejoy: Why is that?
Jeff Rapkin: Well, because the county judge positioning, Charlotte County is unique. They assigned some of the circuit work to the county judges, and I have my eye on the work that Judge Alessandroni does, which is the guardianship’s probate guardian advocacy. My adult disabled child, she’s 27 now. She has autism, and I do a tremendous, it’s tremendous, a tremendous amount of pro bono work for the people like me, parents who have a developmentally disabled child, people who have a child with Down syndrome, with Cushing’s, Prader-Willi, autism of course on all ends of the spectrum. Now it’s called autism spectrum disorder. They used to try to break it up into Asperger’s and other things.
Now it’s just to spectrum. But that’s the kind of work I do. And the people that have come to see me are all explaining the difficulties inherent with getting into the court system. Guardian advocacy for people who are uninitiated. It’s under 393. It’s not a guardianship, a traditional guardianship. That’s what we think of when we’ve got an elderly individual who has a whole lot of assets and things. Your dad, your mom or your dad who had a stroke or has dementia, they need a guardian, somebody to take care of them and their finances and their property. Guardian advocacy is different. It has the same net effect of having a court order to protect the ward,  which is the person who needs the guardian. But in the same respect, all those expensive requirements are not there. It’s like the legislature recognize the need for guardians, for people who have developmental disabilities and put this statute into place. It’s 393 instead of 744. And the requirements are a whole lot less. It’s a whole lot easier. For example, a traditional guardianship, you need to have a lawyer. That puts a whole lot of people in a really hard position, especially if you’ve been
Ken Lovejoy: Monetarily, yeah.
Jeff Rapkin: Yeah, especially if you’ve got a kid who’s developmentally disabled. I mean, my kid, she’s very, I love her, don’t get me wrong, she’s really expensive. You know, her last iPad, she put in the dishwasher. She thought that was a good idea. And I had to laugh. I mean, I’ve bought one,
two, three. I can’t count the number of iPads I’ve bought for her over the years. She took one in the bathtub with her. I keep explaining when you get schmutz on it, you gotta rub it down, you can’t put it in the dishwasher. Sure. But in any respect, 393, you don’t have to have three mental health evaluators. You don’t have to have a finding of total incapacity. And you don’t need a lawyer. That’s the best part. I just gave a speech at the Family Cafe. 26th annual, I think it was, Family Cafe. That is a statewide meeting that the governor puts on. I got to meet the surgeon general, I got to meet Taylor Hatch, the head of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and I gave a speech to it. It was amazing. It was a packed room only, a standing room only group of people who are all being denied access to the legal system because they just don’t have the money for lawyers. And they were so surprised to hear you don’t need a lawyer.
You can do this paperwork yourself. All of it, everything you need is online. And I posted some forms I made myself on my own website. 
Ken Lovejoy: So there you go. Helping them out.
Jeff Rapkin: Yes, absolutely.
Ken Lovejoy: Saving a lot of money.
Jeff Rapkin: Yes. The idea is to save money and to protect your developmentally disabled child. And I gave an example while I was there. My daughter, she loves the dollar store. So I take her to the Dollar Tree and we walk around. Now it’s the dollar 25 store, but Still, still it’s a dollar store and she loves to walk around and the other day we went there she said I want a snack and I was pumping gas at the gas station I said okay go in you know pick something out and by the time, you know, I’m done with the gas I’ll run in I’ll pay for it by the time I got inside the 7 -Eleven. 
Ken Lovejoy: She had the third shelf
Jeff Rapkin: Exactly exactly she had chocolate all over her face. She’d already eaten two Kit Kats had half a twinkie ripped open And the clerk was calling the cops can you imagine my autistic child and walk up, imagine her being arrested, imagine her being abused by the legal system. The legal system will chew people up and spit them out if they don’t know, if they’re not properly educated and a court order naming me Guardian under 393 would protect her, and most people don’t have access for that. My dream as a county judge is to get a room that’s huge, a huge auditorium, and to pack it full of people. And as they came in, they’d be introduced to the concept of RAPKIN’s packets. They’d grab a packet off the table. We’d make it a big piece of party and we’d fill out our paperwork for guardian advocacy all together, all at the same time. I’ve streamlined the process. It would take 10 minutes. By the time we were done, everything would be done and their kids would be protected in time for the next annual report. You have to do an annual report just like you would in any other typical court order that that runs along the gambit of a guardianship regarding advocacy. But the order names them as guardian. It protects your child. It protects your adult disabled child. It keeps them from having being taken advantage of by by somebody who would force them into signing a contract or who would scan them. I heard a horror story about some poor woman who had an adult disabled child with autism who got catfished on the internet. This man came to the door, promised to bring her disabled child to Disney World, of all things, if you could believe it. She called the cops and you know what the cop said? Cop says she’s over 18, there’s nothing we can do. When my child turned 18, The doctors wouldn’t speak to her, speak to me. Doctors wouldn’t speak to me. The nurses wouldn’t speak to me. The school wouldn’t speak to me. Social security wouldn’t speak to me. Nobody would speak to me. They said, where’s your court order? Where’s your guardian advocacy? Where’s your guardianship? And if I didn’t know what I know, then I wouldn’t have one, you know? And the police and the society in general will teach these people who are over 18 as regular adults and they’re not you know my daughter I love her she can do lots of things she can feed the dog she can put her shoes on on her feet she can put her shoes on on the wrong feet sometimes but but she’s wonderful she’s my hero she’s my best friend and she needs help she can’t pay the bills she doesn’t understand that those things are necessary there’s just so far she can come And what this does is this chapter 393 is designed for everybody, regular people, parents of disabled children, aunts, uncles, relatives. 
Ken Lovejoy: Elderly.
Jeff Rapkin: I’m sorry. Well, the elderly, if you’re elderly like me, you can get a guardian advocacy. The elderly who have assets, that’s a guardianship. That’s different. These are for people who the law recognizes a developmental disability. And we are growing at an exponential rate.
Ken Lovejoy: Sadly, yeah.
Jeff Rapkin: In 2020, it was one in 44, and I’m sorry, 2018, it was one in 44, 2020, it’s one in 36. Right now, by my estimate, which is very, very conservative, there should be at least one and a half, two million individuals in the state of Florida that have guardian that need a guardian advocate that are developmentally disabled and there are homeless developmentally disabled people. There are homeless people with Down syndrome with Cushing’s and Prader Willi and autism. They need to be protected and there’s laws out there. There is money to protect them, but people have been denied access to the legal system to explain to you how that works. I had a couple, I just finished their guardian advocacy. They came to see me and I said, I’m too tired. I’ve got way too many of these. I do them all pro bono. I’ve got, I mean, at any given moment, I’ve been in between 30 and 50 clients. That’s a lot for one guy. I don’t have a legal assistant of a secretary. When you call me, you get my cell phone and I’m exhausted. I said, well, see if you can get somebody else to help you. You know, they came back to see me because the lawyer they went to see wanted eight grand. 8 grand, can you believe it? 8 grand for what? In the five minutes they were sitting with me, I had their paperwork done. Now I’ve streamlined the process, I’ve JavaScripted the forms, so you type your name in once and it auto-populates, it goes everywhere it belongs, you type your address in once, it goes everywhere it belongs, okay? So you can do these yourself, you just go to my website, rapkinlegal.com. Everything is free, I never charge. Everything is free, if somebody tries to charge you, you’re in the wrong place, okay? It’s rapkinlegal .com my business card is my cell phone. If you text me and it takes me a minute to get back to you, just give me a minute, I will get back to you.
Ken Lovejoy: Busy guy.
Jeff Rapkin: Very busy, very, very busy. And I’ll text with four or five people at the same time just to warn you in advance. If I tell you I’m bringing you a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken from Publix for dinner
Ken Lovejoy: You got the wrong guy, it was a mistext. 
Jeff Rapkin: Yes, if I tell you I love you and I’m bringing you a rotisserie chicken, That’s meant for my wife, I’ve been married for 33 years. Poor thing. People ask me what the secret to a good marriage is. I say, ask my lovely wife, because she’s been the one putting up with me. I don’t know what to tell you, but I will help you. I will help anyone and everyone who calls. I give legal advice over the phone, anything and everything you need. And so what I wanna do is I wanna expand. I’ve done everything I can on this side of the fence. And my father, before he passed, he died February 21st after a bout in hospice. And he said, “If you want things to be better, you’ve done everything you can. You’ve got to be on the other side of the fence.” My father was a retired circuit judge. My father was a circuit judge for many years, and he said, “The only way to make a change is to be on the other side of that fence.” He said,“You can do it.” He said, “But you can’t do it as a lawyer. You have to do it as a judge.” And And I said, “Well, how am I gonna do that?” And he said, “You run.” You put your hat in the ring and you run and you go everywhere and you meet people like you, Mr. Lovejoy. And you scream it from the rooftops. This is what I’m going to do. So if you’re out there and you know somebody that needs a guardian advocacy, that knows that somebody who needs to have their adult disabled child protected, protected from being a normal adult, All those things that normal adults have to do, it’s hard enough to be a normal adult with all the contracts and all the bills to be paid and all the insurance, it’s hard enough to do that, much less be a developmentally disabled child and to remember those things. You end up pushing a shopping cart. We need to help these people, we need to help them. Sorry, I got into a ramble. 
Ken Lovejoy: Hey, that’s all right. You’re passionate about it. You’ve also discussed also streamlining things in the court for other cases regarding utilizing technology a little bit. 
Jeff Rapkin: Absolutely, there is no reason on God’s green earth that any of us should be sitting in a courtroom waiting for our chance at the podium. You know, I gotta tell you Ken, I can call you Ken. 
Ken Lovejoy: You can call me Ken.
Jeff Rapkin: Yeah, I gotta tell you Ken, the whole world has changed around us. We now have computers that are smarter than us. Our themselves I mean I’m time I’m up with all the technology you know what hasn’t changed is the legal system I blame 95 98 % of the world’s problems on on the legal profession which has refused to change it absolutely has refused to change with the times I have a device in my pocket called a cell phone that I could be standing in the middle of the Amazon basin and ask Siri what the capital of Uruguay is, and Siri will tell me, “When I was a kid, you had to walk when the car broke down. There was no using a phone to call a cell phone. You had to walk to the gas station. And if you wanted to know something, you had to go to the encyclopedia Britannica. You had to go to the library. You had to figure it out.” And there was something that happened when you figured something out. There was a discovery made. There were wrinkles in your brain. Synapses connected. Neurons connected. Now, with a cell phone in your pocket. You don’t have to do any work. I want to streamline the legal system. I think every courtroom should have video cameras in it. I think the world should see what we’re doing. We should be on YouTube live. And I think that nobody should be sitting in a courtroom waiting for their chance at the podium just to say these words, “Okay, come back in another month.” You spend money on lawyer you’re spending $300 an hour for an old lawyer to sit there and wait to get to the podium and say we’re not ready yet we’ll be here in a month why why would we do that if I’m judge I’m gonna be making a lot of phone calls I’ll be doing a lot of FaceTime a lot of Google do duo and and yes I’m well versed with every single operating system iOS Android Linux I know all flavors and distributions of Linux, Windows, 10, 11, don’t get me started on eight, I can’t use eight, but yeah, 11 sucks too, by the way.
Ken Lovejoy: What about seven?
Jeff Rapkin: Seven was okay, but 10 was great, and now they have 11, eight was the one you’re thinking of without a start button.
Ken Lovejoy: That’s right.
Jeff Rapkin: Eight made us all throw our computers at the wall, but I know all areas, I have Macs, I have Windows, You will be sitting in your car in traffic. I will call you and I’ll say hey, this is Jeff Rapkin It’s time for your case management. Hey, what do you want to do? Everybody else will be on the phone. We’ll do a 10 -way call. I can do that We all can do that There is no reason for you to be paying $300 an hour to sit in a courtroom just to leave Did you ever walk in the walls of the and walk in the hallway of the courtroom at the courthouse? And you think there’s something weird going on here. Why are we doing this like we did 300 years ago? It needs to change. My colleagues need to change. They need to improve the way they do business because I don’t want to pay $300 an hour to have a conversation with some guy who’s going to tell me, give me a whole lot of money. Let’s see what happens. I want answers. I want things to be done meticulously, quickly, expeditiously. I’m tired of the court system the way it is, and I’m tired of my colleagues charging $300 an hour for nonsense, such as a guardian advocacy. That couple that came to see me, the person that
Ken Lovejoy: Eight grand.
Jeff Rapkin: Eight grand, can you believe it? Eight grand to do something that took me five minutes, and it only took me five minutes because I’m very chatty. You know, we got to talking about KitKat’s chocolate, don’t get me started. You know, and I’m telling you, it can be done, It can be streamlined and it doesn’t take an expert coder to do it because I’m not an expert coder I use JavaScript HTML 5 in adobe. Don’t make fun of me. Everybody’s using Python now. I can’t use Python. It’s too hard. I’m sorry. I couldn’t figure it out. But I have streamlined the process and I will tell you with me there things will be done fast Expeditiously now don’t get me wrong There are things that you need to go to the courthouse for like a trial where people need to look at evidence and hand things back and forth. But those little court dates where you go and you and you go in and you’ve spent a thousand dollars and you walk out and you think, what did I get my thousand, what did I get for my one thousand dollars? Well nothing, nothing at all. 
Ken Lovejoy: A continuance.
Jeff Rapkin: A continuance, exactly. We need to change. As a society, we need to change. And I’m telling you, if you look at the world and there’s no way to solve your problems, you end We have the Hatfields in the McCoys. We have the Hatfields in the McCoys because people, regular people, people like me, don’t have access to the court system because it costs too much.
Ken Lovejoy: Now, how can people find out more? Website, personal appearances, Facebook page, link down
Jeff Rapkin: I’m going everywhere and everywhere I’m screaming it from the rooftops. I’ve got three billboards up. If you go online and you in my name, you’re going to find a lot of stuff. Here’s, there’s two things you need to look for. Number one is RapkinLegal .com. That is the website I created. Yes, it looks homemade. Okay, I did the best I could with scripting the boxes. I’ve been doing this, working on these for a very long time. That’s the one you would go to if you wanted to learn about my 20 day divorce. Oh, that by the way, I can get you divorced in 20 days. It’s a flat fee of $1,500. The $500
Ken Lovejoy: That should probably get the phone ringing off the hook.
Jeff Rapkin: Yeah, no, no, please don’t call me. You know, I have enough people, but please, I know it’s strange for lawyers to say don’t call me, you know, for that. If you need help with your adult disabled child, that’s where I’m at. Call me for that, that is free. I never charge anything for those. But don’t pay attention to that. What you want to click on at rapkinlegal.com is the big red button that says if you have a disabled child click here. That will give you the instructions, that will give you the tools you need to do your own guardian advocacy, okay, and to protect your adult disabled child. Those forms are statewide and each circuit has their own set of forms. We need uniformity. We need some changes. That’s one of the things we were talking about at this statewide conference. There were senators there, congressmen, federal government, state government. I got to meet a whole lot of them. I got to talk their ear off by the time I was done with them, they wanted me to go away. But, you know, when you have an adult disabled child, you don’t have, you have perspective, you know, Ken, it’s like this, I could tell you how to ride a bicycle, I could tell you the physics involved, I could tell you what it takes to ride a bicycle, but you won’t understand unless you have one. And unless you actually get on the bicycle and you ride around on the bicycle, you won’t understand the feeling you get when you’re riding on two wheels and it looks odd. There’s, it’s not four wheels, it’s two, it looks like it should fall over, but centrifugal force and gravity makes it so that you can do those things. If you don’t have an adult disabled child, you don’t understand the moment you open your eyes in the morning, there is this feeling of fear, trepidation. What will happen to my daughter after I pass away. I’m not gonna live forever. What’s gonna happen to her? What is the world gonna look like? Is it gonna look like it does now? You know, and so unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you don’t understand, you know? And so, I need to help
Ken Lovejoy: And there’s several million in Florida right now that are walking in those shoes, yeah, and they need help.
Jeff Rapkin: They need help, and I know how to do it, and this is the beginning. I’m going to streamline this process better and we are going to start advocating so that statewide it’s the same. Judges don’t know anything about these. They look at these as regular guardianships. I got one in Tampa right now. I filed my forms. They said where are the three mental health evaluations? You don’t need them. You don’t need to spend any money to protect your adult developmentally disabled child. You don’t need a dime. It’s free. It shouldn’t cost anything. It’s $393, not $744, Florida Statute $393, and the people in Hillsborough County, the judges, they don’t know. They don’t understand this. They don’t see it. They don’t utilize it. Okay. The governor signed a bill two days ago that is going to improve how these work. And so we’re making changes slowly but surely. And I want to speed things along. And my father on his deathbed, you know, when I could have a conversation with him before he passed I was telling him don’t go to the light stay here I need your help but he he’s gone it’s just me now um but he said if you want to make a change you have you have got to go further you you got to get out of your office get out of your comfort zone and start fighting and start fighting for for people like my granddaughter and that’s what I’m doing.
Ken Lovejoy: Jeff Rapkin? RapkinLegal .com
Jeff Rapkin: RapkinLegal.com is the website for those of you with a disabled adult child, and there are our child, there are our children. The other website, if you get my campaign website, that’s JeffRapkin.com. That’s not the one I’m talking about. That has all the, you know, vote for Jeff. Hey, my campaign slogan is vote napkin, ’cause it rhymes with Rapkin. That’s a terrible campaign slogan. – Jeff Rapkin, no, really, you want RapkinLegal .com if you’re interested in the developmentally disabled, but if you’re interested in finding out more about me and all the talks I’ve given and what I’ve done with my career, go to JeffRapkin .com. That is my website for my campaign.
Ken Lovejoy: JeffRapkin.com. Jeff, thank you very much, appreciate your time. Best of luck to you.
Jeff Rapkin: Thank you so much, Ken, thank you for having me

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