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Lawmakers Consider Changes to Florida Guardianship Legislation

Guardianship programs throughout Florida have been subject to a great deal of scrutiny over the past year, but now there’s a chance that the state could take action to overhaul guardianship legislation. About a half dozen different bills have already been filed in the state capital, and people familiar with the potential legislation say that at least a few have a decent chance of passing.

Under current laws, people in Florida who are medically incapacitated could lose a lot of their basic rights under a judge’s decision, with a court-appointed guardian then being placed in charge of their estate and general care. This has led to a problem with abuse of wards that did not have provisions in their estate plan to prepare for such incapacitation.

One new possible bill entitled Senate Bill 318 would make the guidelines for declaring someone incapacitated more stringent. Another bill, House Bill 5, would limit the powers that guardians have in Florida, and would allow court clerks to have an expanded ability to seek criminal prosecution for abusive guardians.

A third potential law, Senate Bill 1226, would make by far the most significant changes. It would found a new agency called the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, which would be in charge of supervising all guardians in the state and take action in the event of any reported abuse.

At this point, these are only proposed changes to existing guardianship legislation. But with lawmakers and experts seemingly optimistic about their chances of passing, it seems likely that there will be some big changes to the law very soon.

To set up a guardianship plan and other considerations during the estate planning process, speak with a skilled Florida attorney at the Charles Law Offices.

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