Whether designating guardian choices for later in life or setting up services for incapacitated loved ones or children, most Florida residents likely spend a lot of time considering who will be the best in a guardianship role. In some cases, court-appointed guardians take over personal finances and other decisions. Sometimes, the individuals most trusted to handle someone’s affairs don’t do the right thing. One state Senator is working to prevent abuse by Florida guardians.
The bill, which is being championed by Jeff Brandes, includes additional auditing requirements for court-appointed guardians. The push for better supervision comes after one guardian in the Senator’s jurisdiction was accused of invoicing for services she didn’t perform. There were also issues with the sale of homes under the guardian’s purview.
According to news reports, the guardian was located in Pinellas Park, Florida. She handled over 50 guardianship cases and billed $70 for each hour of work. Journalists observed the woman and poured through invoices included in court records. The news report estimated that the woman brought in around $87,000 a year in guardianship payments, but contends that there was little evidence that she helped those who she was appointed to assist.
The news report also indicates the guardian obtained approval from judges to sell fourteen homes that were owned by her wards. It’s alleged that the sales occurred without home appraisals and that the guardian used another City Council member to conduct the transactions.
Brandes’ bill would give audit power to clerks of court in Florida. They would be able to review criminal history and financial status for court-appointed guardians. Guardians who are observed mismanaging accounts for others could then be removed from the situation.
By planning ahead and creating documents that identify your choice of guardian, you can avoid court-appointed individuals who may not have your best interest in mind. Emergencies do happen, however, and legislation to protect the young or incapacitated is beneficial to everyone.
Source: Sunshine State News, “Jeff Brandes’ Bill Would Help Keep Unscrupulous Guardians in Check” Nancy Smith, Jan. 15, 2014