Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Babette Bach: Improving guardianship

As the recent articles in the Herald-Tribune's series "The Kindness of Strangers -- Inside Elder Guardianship in Florida" point out, exploitation against our elderly is far too common. The worst cases start with some common factors covered by the Herald-Tribune's series: failing to notify the next of kin of proceedings, poor legal representation, poor guardian performance and misrepresentation of the facts.

Guardianship is a serious proceeding that requires extensive fact gathering. Unfortunately, this is legally intensive. To do a great job takes time, yet wasting of assets on attorney and guardian fees is also a challenge. So there is a tight rope of effective advocacy and its cost. Our guardianship system has few resources for poor and indigent elders.

Solutions: Lawmakers and elder care advocacy organizations are pursuing several solutions. The Florida Joint Public Policy Task Force for the Elderly and Disabled, The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys and the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar have been instrumental in helping Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) draft legislative reforms in House Bill 5, which makes numerous improvements centered around the ward and sets performance standards for guardians.

Better funding and more home-based social services are longer-term solutions.

Potential for Abuse: For many years in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the person who petitioned for guardianship "suggested" to the court which attorney should represent the alleged incapacitated person (AIP) needing the guardian. This led to petitioners' attorneys picking a buddy to represent the alleged incapacitated person, with the obvious result of poor advocacy. In essence, the case was "fixed."

Full Article & Source:
Babette Bach: Improving guardianship


StandUp said...

Because there is so much potential for abuse, elder law attorneys should gather together and form a task force to address the problem.

Tom said...

I appreciate seeing any media that speaks to solutions and I appreciate NASGA for posting it.