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What is a court monitor in Florida adult guardianship?

Adult guardianship can be a contentious affair. When a person is unable to take care of his or her own affairs anymore, and this power is given to someone else, there can be understandable feelings of frustration and bitterness on the part of the ward. Further, family members may be suspicious of this new person's motives. This is why courts in Florida use full or plenary guardianship as a last resort, when all other less restrictive means of addressing the situation are unlikely to be successful.

Florida law does give the court a way to keep tabs on the guardian and attempt to ensure that the ward is not being abused or taken advantage of. Florida Statute 744.107 provides that the court may appoint a monitor upon the request of an interested party or on the court's own motion. The monitor cannot be a person with a personal interest in the guardianship case, such as one of the ward's family members. This appointed monitor is given fairly broad powers to investigate the way the guardianship is being executed. He or she can look at documents, attempt to obtain information about the guardianship and talk to the ward in order to make a verified report to the court. The guardian and the ward are also served with copies of the report, as well as any other person the court deems necessary.

After the report is filed with the court, the judge may take any action, if any, he or she thinks necessary to protect the ward's person or property. This includes requiring assets to be produced, modifying the existing guardianship plan, or suspending or beginning the procedure to remove the guardian. The monitor can be paid a reasonable fee, and if the court decides that the original motion for a monitor was made in bad faith, the party requesting the monitor may be held responsible for the costs of the monitoring.

Dealing with a loved one's incapacity can be painful and create large amounts of stress. Having a knowledgeable counselor may be of help. If there are questions about the way guardianship works or whether it is the right thing for you or a family member, you may wish to seek out an experienced Florida estate attorney.

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