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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Florida Guardianship Law

A new Guardianship Law that will do a better job of protecting the elderly and improving the guardianship system went into effect July 1.

The system that had been in place was designed to protect incapacitated elders from exploitation, but it was not as effective as hoped. People often found seniors forced into guardianships that took away their ability to run their own affairs and often created challenging legal expenses. As wards of the guardianship system, these elders can see their assets sold or depleted to pay for care, nursing homes, attorneys' fees and more.

The new law tightens guardianship statutes, clarifies the duties of state-appointed guardians, includes criminal penalties for exploitation or abuse of a ward, requires more notice of emergency temporary guardianship proceedings and makes it harder to suspend a family member's power of attorney during the litigation process, according to the Florida Bar.

While guardianship services are often necessary when people present a danger to themselves or others, there's a risk that less charitable motives can influence the push for guardianship. Failure to properly inform the ward, or relatives, of the legal process can hurt an individual's right to challenge a guardian's actions.

It’s too easy to exploit the elderly. This new law is a great step in eliminating, or at least limiting that exploitation.


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