Trusteeship changes on the table with legislators

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) — State lawmakers were told Florida was collecting little data on conservatories during a committee meeting on Wednesday.

A task force is recommending changes, but there are still major flaws in the system.

Doug Franks spent years trying to free his mother from guardianship.

He succeeded a few weeks before his death.

Franks had some harsh words this summer when he addressed the state guardianship task force.

“Our justice system is broken. And it rewards people who want to squeeze money out of the elderly. There is no monitoring. There still isn’t,” Franks said.

The House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee heard from experts on Wednesday.

One of the concerns is that Florida does not allow courts in other states to communicate with Florida courts.

Former lawyer Victoria Heuler spoke of a hypothetical brother.

“He then began a guardianship in Georgia. Because he hates my guts and he wants all of mom’s money. Now she’s in Georgia. How can I go to Georgia and pick her up? said Heuler.

It is also clear from the meeting that there is no data on who, what or why people are under guardianship.

There is also no data on guardians caring for what the law calls a “ward”.

“The state does not follow guardianship. There is no database that tells us how many guardianship cases there are. There is no data that shows us if there are guardians who are bad actors,” said representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Recommendations from a statewide guardianship task force include creating databases, asking judges to consider less restrictive steps before a guardianship and more training for everyone involved. .

Doug Franks thinks that not all the right people were on the task force.

“Law enforcement. It was huge. They had to be part of this because it’s a criminal enterprise,” Franks said.

And while Franks was able to free his mother, the committee learned that once someone is in guardianship, few are freed except by death.

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