The bill (HB 1225), sponsored by Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, would create a new “Office of Public and Professional Guardians” in the Department of Elder Affairs to oversee both public and professional guardians. Currently, the DOEA only handles public guardians, who are appointed to care for frail and disabled elders who have no family or cannot afford to hire a professional guardian.
Ahern’s bill is similar to a measure (SB 1226), sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, that is moving through the Senate.
Like Detert’s bill, Ahern’s legislation would give the DOEA the authority to certify, oversee and discipline guardians across the state. The bill would also require courts to use a rotating list of professional guardians when making appointments.
Ahern said his bill was prompted by a December series in the Herald-Tribune _ “The Kindness of Strangers: Inside Elder Guardianship in Florida” _ that detailed cases of people who believe they were denied due process in court and afterward in guardianship cases.
“This is a modernization that will help, I believe, our elders be protected and also just having some more transparency and oversight of how their money is spent and the reasons why it gets spent,” Ahern said.
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House advances guardianship bill