Governor Rick Scott Signs New Guardianship Bill Into Law
On June 2, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new bill into law that provides some overhauls to the state’s guardianship system. The new legislation, HB5, will help protect elders from exploitation and abuse, a growing problem in the state over the past several years in particular.
Rep. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples sponsored the bill. In the past, there had been many loopholes in guardianship statutes that allowed people to easily take control of elders’ assets. This new measure tightens those portions of the guardianship laws and also more clearly states the duties of state-appointed guardians.
Working with legal professionals
Rep. Passidomo sought the assistance of estate planning attorneys throughout the state to determine which parts of the existing laws needed an overhaul. The problems with the old guardianship laws came under the microscope in late 2014, when the Sarasota Herald-Tribune published a series of stories about the abuse of elders and their families who felt the existing system was stacked against them. Legislators have spent a significant amount of time focusing on these issues this year, and members of both parties came together to figure out how laws could be changed to protect elderly citizens in the state.
The new law features criminal penalties for people who abuse or exploit elderly wards. The rules also state more notice is required to initiate emergency temporary guardianship proceedings, and it is now more difficult to suspend power of attorney of a family member during the litigation process. The new laws officially take effect July 1.
For more information on the new guardianship laws in Florida, meet with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer at the Charles Law Offices.