When someone becomes unable to care for himself or herself, the state may appoint legal guardians. This person receives the right to manage the individual’s personal, financial and legal affairs. In some instances, family members become appointed guardians, but sometimes professionals work with them or manage the role completely.
Unfortunately, Florida guardians face very little oversight. This increases the risk of professionals and some family members abusing their powers for personal gain. Some may even abuse the actual persons they become responsible for.
Systematic concerns and biases
ABC Action News points out that Florida law does not currently restrict how many people guardians may oversee or serve. This may ultimately lead to neglect or the inability to adequately serve the best interests of each individual. State laws also do not regulate how much these individuals may charge. Hourly fees may range from $45 per hour to almost $100 per hour.
Choosing the guardians
Courts have a larger-than-normal pool of professional guardians to choose from. There are currently more than 550 registered agents. This shows a sharp increase of 121% compared to just 10 years earlier. Some people say the growth stemmed from con artists recognizing the opportunities available to take advantage of the elderly and disabled.
The way forward
Thankfully, change is on the way. The Florida Bar reports that Florida is finally trying to do an extensive review and updating of its guardianship laws. However, many professionals question whether it may achieve much of anything. This stems from the fact that the aim is to modernize the system, not rewrite it. Even so, a more thorough renovation of the system may follow this first attempt at modernization.