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A New Bill is Attempting to Increase Florida Courts Power Over Guardianships

A new bill is making its way through the Florida legislature that would potentially increase the power given to legal guardians in Florida.

Guardianship is a complex legal process where an individual is declared incapacitated, and a legal guardian is appointed to make decisions for them. This process is typically viewed as a last resort for individuals who are no longer able to make important choices. Guardians are able to sell an individual's property, manage their finances, and make healthcare decisions for the individual where the court sees fit. An individual who is declared incapacitated and in need of a guardian by the courts is known as a ward.

Currently, if a guardian finds that a ward is better suited in another state for healthcare or other care purposes, the guardianship courts in Florida and the other state will engage in a battle for control over the case. This may lead to a delay in the ward's relocation and confusion for the guardian while the courts determine who should control the case.

However, the new bill, known as the Guardianship Jurisdiction Act, would enter Florida into the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act. This would permit Florida courts to retain control over the ward even when they relocate to another state and likely lessen the confusion and delay of transitions.

There are 46 other states that participate in the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, which has assisted courts in avoiding battles over control. Many proponents of Florida becoming the 47th participant have argued that adopting the Act would assist many seniors in Florida, especially those who are transient or have family members in another state. In addition, adoption of the Act has been endorsed by numerous associations, such as AARP and the Alzheimer's Association. Opponents feel as though adoption of the Act feel as though it would be predatory and entrap transient senior wards in the Florida legal system.

The bill has currently passed through a number of committees and is continuing to be debated by the Florida Senate.

This article is not intended to be legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.

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