Friday, July 29, 2016

Call Christina: Professional Guardianship Laws Expanding to Protect Seniors from Exploitation

The state of Florida is cracking down on bad actors in the professional guardianship industry, hoping the latest reform bill, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March, will protect seniors from guardianship abuse.

Last Friday, the Florida State Guardianship Association (FSGA) met in Fort Lauderdale for their 2016 Annual Conference, where officials discussed recently passed SB-232, based on the guardianship audits performed by the Clerk & Comptroller in Palm Beach County for the last 25 years.

"Historically, the clerks have had the statutory obligation to monitor the guardianship's financial information," Clerk Sharon Bock, from the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller, said. "In 2013, that was enhanced to be able to actually investigate and audit and get down really in the nitty-gritty of these files."

Now that the Clerk of Courts is partnering with the Department of Elder Affairs, however, Bock said the new law fills that hole by requiring a collection of that information all in one place.

"That gap has now closed," Bock said. "We will now, through our partnership with the state, be reporting the outcome of our investigations and audits."

"There are sometimes some bad apples," Secretary Sam Verghese, from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, said. "What we've sought to do with the legislature has been to fix some of those gaps that have been there, so that if there is someone who's being taken advantage of from abuse, neglect, exploitation, financial fraud, there's a way to actually go after the bad apples so more people aren't hurt."

In creating the Office of Public and Professional Guardians (OPPG) within Department of Elder Affairs, the passing of SB-232 requires that the OPPG provide monitoring and disciplinary oversight of professional guardians, including the ability to revoke a guardian's registration. It also establishes a complaint department for families and those in guardianships, and certifies and supervises court-appointed guardians.

This is in addition to HB-5, which was signed into law last year in order to make it more difficult for guardians to seize control of their wards' assets.

"This in fact will stop, or we hope will deter the kind of unethical and fraudulent practices that we may have seen in the past," Bock said.

Full Article and Source:
Call Christina:  Professional Guardianship Laws Expanding to Protect Seniors from Exploitation


Helen said...

It takes so long to see reform actually working, but Florida is well on its way.

Anonymous said...

I would like reform for abusive powers of attorneys as well. I don't think that Arizona is doing enough. My mother isolated then illegitimately sedated/killed by morphine and my father isolated and moved around for three years in another state that he was taken from. No help from anyone. People don't even want to talk about it. We don't know where my father is and the powers of attorneys are refusing to inform family members who oppose their actions. Elders are being targeted here in Arizona because so many retire here. Please help!