48ºF

Lawmakers poised to make big changes to guardianships

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State lawmakers are about to crack down on guardians after an Orlando guardian allegedly initiated “Do Not Resuscitate” orders against her patients’ wishes.

There multiple stories of people who were put into guardianships, isolated from their families and had their assets liquidated.

Their family members came to the Capitol to tell their stories and urge the Legislature to reform the system.

“There is no due process, so its really open season on families,” said Teresa Kennedy, whose aunt was put in a guardianship.

Kennedy came from NY to try and free her aunt in Deland.

"A family friend, who said he was a nephew petitioned without any of us knowing, and that started it off,” she said.

Lynn Sayler came from St. Petersburg. Her mother was put in a home an hour and a half away. She has been fighting for change ever since her mother died in 2012.

“We couldn’t get an emergency hearing. We couldn’t get her home for any holidays while other people were coming and leaving the facility,” Sayler said.

Hillary Hogue came from Naples.

“My father, who was doing quite well financially, was left with five dollars in his wallet,” Hogue said. “And I am begging for changes. This is happening. Thousands of people are being held captive.”

All of the families said they would expect what happened to them in another country, but not in America.

With attempts to get a meeting Gov. Ron DeSantis futile, on Thursday they hijacked Seniors Day event at the Capitol. That got them a meeting with the secretary of elder Affairs which they hope will turn into meaningful conversations that could eventually protect Florida seniors.

In addition to requiring a judge to sign off on a Do Not Resuscitate order, lawmakers are also looking to put a timeline for the state to investigate valid complaints within 45 days.