Florida Guardianship Abuse: Palm Beach Guardian under Fire
Florida Guardianship Abuse is unfortunately far too common as many retirees flock to Florida for retirement. Retirees move to Florida to enjoy the beaches, sunshine and tax advantages. At any given time, there are 30,000 to 40,000 open guardianships cases being overseen by the Florida Court System. Regrettably, many of these retirees are not legally prepared for when they can no longer care for themselves. Being legally prepared for not being able to care for oneself means having advanced directives in place; a Durable Power of Attorney and Designation of Healthcare Surrogate. Not having these documents results in a guardianship being necessary.
A Florida Durable Power of Attorney allows an individual when they can still care for themselves, to choose who will oversee their financial assets when they cannot.
A Florida Designation of Healthcare Surrogate allows an individual to appoint someone to make their healthcare decisions for them if they are unable to. Just like a Durable Power of Attorney, the designation is done while the individual can still care for him or herself.
Guardianship is a court-established relationship where one person oversees the care of another person who cannot care for him or herself. The person legally obligated to care for another person is the Guardian. The Ward is the person who cannot care for him or herself. A Guardian’s responsibilities can range from overseeing the financial assets of the Ward to making sure the Ward has adequate food, shelter, and hygiene. A Guardian is supposed to protect the Ward from abuse.
The most common form of Florida Guardianship Abuse is financial abuse. One type of financial abuse is when the Guardian inflates their fees by charging for services and time not provided to or necessary for the Ward. A Guardian is permitted under Florida Law to collect a reasonable fee for services rendered, but all services provided must be in the best interests of the Ward. The Guardian can charge $50.00 to $95.00 per hour and are paid from the Ward’s assets. As an unintentional consequence, this structure has unofficially produced an industry for professional guardians.
A Guardian in Palm Beach County, Florida is currently under fire for inflating and providing unnecessary services to multiple wards she was court-appointed to protect. Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt is under investigation for Florida Guardianship abuse after years of complaints from numerous wards and their family members for overbilling and phony litigation to generate fees. Most of the wards Savitt was appointed to care for are seniors whose life savings were drained as a result. The Office of Public and Professional Guardians is seeking to have Savitt banned from serving as a guardian and requiring her to pay back almost $200,000.
An investigation of Savitt began after the Inspector General of the Clerk, and Comptroller’s Office received numerous complaints about her practices. According to several accounts, the Inspector General has identified significant abuses of Florida guardianship law by Sevitt. The complaints received by the Inspector General, and the investigation and report that followed, shows that the system works for identifying and prosecuting guardians who violate their statutory responsibilities.
Being a Florida Guardian comes with immense responsibilities that are controlled by Florida Statute. Not only can an experienced Florida Guardianship Lawyer help you navigate the responsibilities of being a Guardian, but you are also required by law to be represented by a lawyer. When a lawyer adequately oversees a guardian, many cases of abuse are preventable. Contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC to speak with a Jacksonville Guardianship Lawyer today.