Guardianship bill passes through the Senate Committee on Judiciary

Bill passed with 6-0 vote

File photo: The hands of an elderly woman.
File photo: The hands of an elderly woman. (Pixlr)

Senate Bill 994 – known as the guardianship bill – passed through the Senate Committee on Judiciary by a vote of 6 to 0.

“The majority of guardians in this state are caring, dedicated individuals,” Sen. Kathleen Passidomo said. “But recently there have been reports of guardians who have taken advantage of those they are sworn to protect. Senate Bill 994 makes a number of changes to Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes to improve guardianship laws in the state.”

She says what the bill does is add additional factors for a court to consider when appointing a guardian:

  • It provides that a guardian may only consent to or authorize a do not resuscitate order with court approval.
  • It provides additional requirements for the petition for the appointment of a guardian.
  • It creates an additional requirement for an initial guardianship plan.
  • It provides additional requirements for annual guardianship reports and annual plans.
  • It revises provisions related to conflicts of interest for professional guardians and it prohibits guardians from accepting financial incentives in return for services.

There are two amendments added recently. One that provides a timeline of 72 hours for the court to follow before making a ruling on DNR orders.

The other states public guardians being paid for the state can petition for their own appointment to a case, since they are not being paid by the ward.

Passidomo said there are very few public guardians and they handle many cases on behalf of the state or on behalf of a city.

Senators on the Judiciary committee said they accepted the amendments and the bill moved forward.

An official from AARP said the organization is in support of the bill.

Next, the bill will be heard in the Committee on Rules and Administration.

The companion bill, HB 709, goes before the Health and Human Services committee on Thursday.