The laws surrounding guardianship protect both caregivers and their wards from particular legal avenues, but may also protect one over another. Which is the best practice? It is a balancing act.
The Orlando Sentinel reports on a guardianship abuse scandal from last year and how lawyers today seek to revise the system of public records to increase privacy for the incapacitated.
The argument for protection
Industry lawyers propose to increase the protections for incapacitated individuals in Florida by making all court records related to their incapacity confidential. They seek to preserve their equal protection rights and keep them from becoming zoo attractions for the curious.
The courts keep many records confidential already including inventories and guardianship plans that contain medical and financial information that is personal to the incapacitated.
The argument against corruption
Opponents to the bill claim that exploitation may arise on account of the difficulty that comes in auditing abuse cases without public records. They cite last year’s scandal where public court records assisted in the investigation. The Orange County Comptroller states his investigation may have stalled if his employees lacked access to said records.
The public may access documents such as when guardians open security deposit boxes, bill fees from their wards’ estate to themselves or when they ask judges to sell a wards’ home — as well as other records. One lawyer says “Without transparency, there can’t be accountability for the guardian system.”
Privacy vs transparency
Both arguments seek to protect the incapacitated but in different ways. The effects of the bill could have unforeseen results that firms may need to pay attention to.
Elders and the incapacitated deserve protections as well as privacy, but it takes passionate care when it comes to seeking justice after abuse and exploitation.