Guardianship Update

New Florida guardianship legislation with more safeguards for elderly wards and clarification of guardian duties became effective on July 1, 2015. HB 5 – SB 366/318, adopted as Chapter 2015-83, was passed by the Florida House of Representatives on April 16, 2015, the Florida Senate on April 28, 2015 and was approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott on June 02, 2015.

The bill includes provisions that expressly prohibit abuse, neglect, and exploitation of a ward by a guardian. It also, “limits the automatic suspension of an alleged incapacitated person’s power of attorney held by a close family member to circumstances in which neglect or wrongdoing is alleged” (Florida House of Representatives, Final Bill Analysis).

According to the Miami Herald, “The changes are aimed at installing some checks and balances to ensure that guardians, who have considerable power once they are appointed to a case, are qualified and that their actions can be reviewed.” Additionally, the bill “requires the court to delineate the authority of the guardian and health care surrogate with regard to health care decisions for the ward.”

Other protections include the requirement of notification of the incapacitated person and their attorney before the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian and the requirement that incidents of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of ward by a guardian must be reported.

Posted on August 4, 2015 by Andrew Paul Williams, Ph.D.

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