Professional Appointed Guardians in Florida May Need Better Oversight
What is a Court Appointed Guardian?
Courts appoint Guardians to children or incapacitated adults, called Wards. These Guardians make decisions on behalf of the Ward. Depending on the situation, the Guardian may have exclusive or partial control over the person’s financial and personal affairs.
Who is Incapacitated?
A person is incapacitated when a Court determines he or she lacks the capacity to manage at least some of her property or at least some safety or health requirements. A committee of three members, which includes a physician, determines whether someone is incapacitated and to what extent.
What Are the Requirements to Becoming a Florida Guardian?
The state of Florida requires potential Guardians to pass an exam, submit fingerprinting, pass a credit check and criminal background check and attend a 40-hour class. They must also obtain a $50,000 market bond. Professional Guardians must also register with the Office of Public and Professional Guardians.
Should I Hire a Professional Guardian for My Loved One?
In many cases, a family member or friend of the incapacitated person will become his or her Guardian. In some cases, however, families hire professional Guardians on behalf of their loved ones.
ABC News Tampa recently reported on a growing number of Florida Guardians who are allegedly not doing their due diligence in taking care of their Wards, particularly in the case of the elderly. Children of elderly parents who are no longer able to manage their owner affairs often hire professional Guardians to manage their aging parents’ money. As of February 21, 2019, there were 551 professional Guardians registered in Florida, up 121 percent from 2009.
Palm Beach County recently discovered at least $5 million of “unsubstantiated expenditures and missing assets” in Guardianship cases over the past 20 years. Pinellas County discovered at least $22 million of questionable spending by Guardians for the same time period.
How Can I Protect Myself If I Become Incapacitated?
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself in the event that you become incapacitated is to make sure that your wishes are explicitly known. You can videotape yourself discussing your wishes. You can also explicitly state in writing who you’d like to be your Guardian in the event of your future incapacity. In your advanced directives, name the one person or several people you’d like to be your Guardian in the event of your incapacitation.
Are you or a loved one involved in a Guardianship issue? Do you need the court to appoint a Guardian for your loved one? Alternatively, do you need to oppose the appointment of a Guardian? Pompano Beach Guardianship litigation lawyer Mark Manceri has over 30 years of Guardianship litigation experience. Contact the office for assistance today.