The legislative chair for the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers Association has recently penned a piece that shows the organization's support for a recently passed piece of state legislation. Designated House Bill 635, the legislation would allow for clerks of court to more closely scrutinize adult guardianship reports, as well as let them form more robust audits of guardianships. According to the clerks' legislative chair, the move is a "great first step."
The clerks believe that the act will allow closer monitoring of fiduciary relationships between guardians and their wards; many also believe the new bill will ultimately go a long way towards helping decrease the exploitation of this vulnerable population. A recent spate of guardians being accused of either taking money and doing nothing, or actually acting against the best interests of their wards, has brought the issue into the public spotlight. There are many in Florida that believe the adult guardianship system is broken, and that closer scrutiny of guardians is needed to begin to fix it.
One thing that is clear is that having a court-appointed guardian not of one's own choosing can be a risky proposition. Once one is incapacitated, it is often too late to decide who should be in charge of one's affairs. Luckily, it is possible to avoid this situation by having an organized, comprehensive and legally-enforceable estate plan.
Using such tools as trusts, durable powers of attorney, healthcare proxies and other methods, an individual can go a long way toward ensuring that, if they can no longer legally make decisions for themselves, they will be in the hands of a person known and trusted by the individual.
Source: tbo.com, "'Great first step' for more accountability in guardianships," Karen Rushing, May 14, 2014