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William Rambaum, PA Clearwater & Oldsmar Elder Law Attorney

Florida’s Laws Protecting Elderly People from Dishonest Professional Guardians Are Not Strong Enough


Imagine watching helplessly while a virtual stranger spent your money and authorized medical treatments to be administered to you or withheld from you.  Imagine that, if you objected to this treatment, your objections would carry no weight, nor would the objections of your closest family members, because the stranger was legally responsible for you.  It might sound like a nightmare that could only happen in the works of Franz Kafka, but hundreds of Florida seniors are still living this terrifying scenario; their financial and medical wellbeing now falls under the authority of court-appointed professional guardians who plan to enrich themselves from the estates of their wards.  To protect yourself and your family from the machinations of unscrupulous professional guardians, you should articulate a plan for what you want to happen if you become ill enough to need a legal guardian to act on your behalf.  Contact a guardianship lawyer to find out more about guardianship in Florida and to discuss the details of your plan.

Failed Attempts to Reform Florida Guardianship Laws

In the context of elder law, a guardian is someone legally responsible for making, and authorized to make, decisions on behalf of an adult whom the court has declared incapacitated.  Loopholes in the current laws make it possible for professional guardians to prey on vulnerable seniors in order to pay themselves attorneys’ fees from their clients’ estates.  One of the most egregious practices of unscrupulous guardians is what the Orlando Sentinel calls “trolling,” which is when professional guardians host breakfasts for lonely seniors and convince them to request to be declared incapacitated and have a guardian appointed.  The professional guardians take on as many clients as they can, collecting attorneys’ fees from the estates of the people they claim to protect.  The most notorious unscrupulous guardian is Rebecca Fierle, who is facing criminal charges for her actions as the guardian of 95 seniors, including one for whom she registered a “do not resuscitate” order against the wishes of the ward and his family.

Choose Someone You Trust to Be Your Guardian

You might be intimidated to think about being incapacitated, and the thought of talking to your family about it might be even scarier, but it is essential to express your wishes now, while you are healthy.  Even though the horror stories about abuse by guardians involve professional guardians in the elder law industry, you might choose to designate an elder law attorney as your guardian.  Importantly, it should be an elder law attorney you know and trust.  Even if you decide that a family member is the best person to act as your guardian in the event that you need one, and elder law attorney can advise you and your family on steps to take now to avoid the nightmare of being at the mercy of a guardian who does not have your best interests in mind.

Reach Out to an Attorney Today for Help

An elder law attorney can help you avoid becoming the ward of someone who only wants your money.  Contact Clearwater guardianship attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.



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