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Administrative Changes: New Standards of Practice for Public & Professional Guardians

September 25, 2017 in News

Written By Kate Wakeman, Law Clerk and JD candidate for May, 2018 at the Michigan State University College of Law.

The Office of Public & Professional Guardians (OPPG), in consultation with the Florida State Guardianship Association, recently declared a set of new procedures and guidelines affecting public and professional guardianships. Governor Rick Scott signed the Standards of Practice into law on June 23, 2017.

These Standards brought many changes to guardianship practice. A few of the new rules are note-worthy, including:

  • Registration Requirement: Professional guardians must score a minimum of 75% on a competency exam or receive a waiver by having more than five (5) years of experience or a letter from a judge stating he or she is a competent guardian.
  • Background Checks: Public guardians must complete a credit report, criminal background check, and demonstrate financial stability.
  • Professional Guardian’s Fees: A professional guardian’s fee may not be taken until after the court approves.
  • Budget: A professional guardian of property must maintain a budget.
  • Conflicts of Interest: Professional guardians are prohibited from taking positions adverse to their wards and may not directly provide housing, medical, or other direct services to their wards unless the ward is a family member or the guardian obtains court approval.
  • Consideration of Ward’s Preferences: A professional guardian shall be aware of and consider a ward’s cultural preferences, including the ward’s wishes regarding illness, pain and suffering, death and funeral customs.
  • Decision-Making Standard: A professional guardian must now use the “substituted judgment standard” – which requires a guardian to make decisions based on what the ward would do if the ward had capacity – when making decisions on behalf of the ward, except when doing so would cause significant impairment to the ward or when the guardian cannot establish a ward’s preferences.

A full copy of the Standards of Practice can be found here.


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