The Shifting Landscape of Guardianship Law: Three Consecutive Years of Changes

Members of The Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section’s Guardianship, Power of Attorney (click here) and Advanced Directives Committee are keenly aware that there have been major changes to Florida’s guardianship laws in the last several years.  The political climate of the past few years has been decidedly against guardianships and, in particular, professional guardians, due to perceived abuses by them.  The current political climate is due in part to hearings held before the Florida Legislature during the 2014 session in which organized members of the public testified about the horrors of guardianships.  While some of the horror stories came from disgruntled family members, unhappy with the results of their particular guardianship case/litigation, others made legitimate points regarding the need to improve the system.  As a result of these hearings and lobbying efforts, the Florida Legislature sprang into action and made substantial changes to F.S. Ch. 744 (also known as the Florida Guardianship Law or the Guardianship Code) in 2014, 2015, and 2016.  The triennial reshaping of Florida’s Guardianship Code is something every practitioner in this area should and be aware of.  This article briefly touches on some of the major changes during that period.