Florida Legislature Looks to Improve Elder Abuse Laws
The average age of the population in Florida is greater than the national average. People retire from the colder northern regions of the country and enjoy the sun and mild climates in the state. As a result, the state has the highest percentage of elder citizens in the country at 65 or older — at 17.3%.
As a result, the state had created laws to help protect the elderly citizens in the state. It has one of the most liberal guardianship laws in the country. It’s easier in Florida for an elderly person to be declared mentally unfit and put under the protection of a guardian. As a result, there has been some abuse of the system. According to media reports, a friend was able to get an 89-year-old man declared mentally unfit by a judge. He took control of the man’s finances and assets and sold off most of the man’s possessions. The man’s neighbors say he can takes care of himself and is mentally sound. The man has been fighting unsuccessfully to have a judge declare him mentally fit.
Because of that incident and others, the Florida legislature is considering a series of reforms to give the elderly more rights. They want to make it more difficult for a judge to give someone guardianship of an elderly person. Sen. Nancy Detert has introduced a bill that creates an Office of Public and Professional Guardians. That office would give elderly people an avenue to express complaints if they feel they were placed wrongly under the care of a guardian. It would also set standards in order to qualify as a guardian. “Some predators in this field have created their own cottage industry and are crawling through cracks in our otherwise very good laws and taking advantage of the elderly,” Detert told media outlets in Florida.
There are two other measures that aim to reform the guardianship program in the state. Each is in various stages in the legislature, and it appears some form of reform will be adopted this year.
If you or a loved one has been the subject of elder abuse, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. immediately at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.