While in private practice, Attorney Gehl successfully litigated several probate cases, including estates, trusts and guardianships. One of her cases made new law in The Florida Supreme Court. See Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, Petitioner v. Lorraine E. Zrillic, Respondent; Estate of Lorraine Romans, Petitioner v. Lorraine E. Zrillic, 563 So.2d 64 (Fla. 1990), a charitable devise case wherein Testator disinherited her natural daughter leaving her residuary estate to the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.
Upon her appointment as a General Master in the 17th Judicial Circuit in 1989, Judge Gehl’s first division was guardianship. She was charged with determining plenary or limited incapacities, monitoring guardianship reports and accountings, and, in mental health–conducting Baker and Marchman Act hearings. One of her first assignments was streamlining court processes for the recently-enacted guardianship statutes contained in Chapter 744, F.S.
Judge Gehl taught presentation of an incapacity case to the Broward County Guardianship Association, and Guardianship Education to Guardianship classes in 1992-1994.
In 1995, Judge Gehl was appointed to the Broward County Bench, where she was assigned to a criminal division. During her 15 years on the County Bench, Judge Gehl was called upon by the three probate Circuit Judges on numerous occasions to sign files in their absence, including attorneys’ fee requests, guardianship fee requests, guardianship account withdrawals, orders on petitions to open estates, issuing letters of administration, orders opening safety deposit boxes, orders on petitions for discharge of personal representatives, closing of estates, as well as a variety of probate matters needing immediate attention.
Upon her retirement from the bench in 2010, Judge Gehl was designated by the Florida Supreme Court as a Florida Senior Judge, which position she enjoys today. Besides sitting in the Unified Family Court and Domestic Violence for 3 years, Judge Gehl sat four days/week for nearly a full year in 2014 and 2015 in Judge Mel Grossman’s probate division during his illness. She was personally asked to take over the division by Judge Grossman, with whom she had worked executing orders over the years. Chief Judge Weinstein approved the assignment.
During the time Judge Gehl sat in a probate division, she conducted several trials and cleaned up a backlog of older cases. To insure she maintained currency with the law, she joined the RPPTL section of the Florida Bar, the Florida and Broward County Guardianship Associations, and the Elder Law section of both the Florida Bar and Broward Bar.
Judge Gehl became certified by the FSC as a mediator in Family law (2015); Circuit/Civil (2016); and completed the County Court certification class in 2017. She has mediated probate cases since early 2016, and has been successful in nearly all of her appointments.
Some of the probate issues she has successfully mediated include breach of bank duties and successor powers of attorney; determining devises among siblings; determining distribution of real property; breach of trustee fiduciary duties; undue influence in preparation of will; cohabitation agreements; removal and appointment of successor personal representative; enforcement of guardian’s powers and duties; unlawful removal of ward’s funds and unlawful distribution of a wrongful death recovery.