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Office Hour Change

Effective January 16, 2015, our hours will be as follows:


Monday – Thursday 9 am to 5 pm
Friday – 9 am to noon


We will be unavailable for appointments or phone calls on Friday afternoons, so that we may finalize our work for the week. This also ensures that we have some uninterrupted time to devote to the needs of our clients.

Guardianship Clients Retain Right to Drive

 

OrlandoGuardian.com Guardianship Client Retains Right to Drive

Image Credit: Matthew G

When a guardianship occurs, some or all of the wards delegable rights are removed and bestowed upon the guardian who acts on the ward’s behalf. Sometimes the ward retains some rights, such as the right to determine residence, or the right to vote. But what happens when a ward retains the right to drive?

 

It is rare, but there have been times when a client has been allowed to keep their right to drive. And, it is very complicated to manage when this occurs.

 

What happens when a client is left having the authority under statute 744.3215 2(d) to have a driver’s license, but was not left with the right to travel? How does a guardian manage that? And, what does travel mean? The same city? County? State? Country?

 

If something were to happen when the client was driving, what is the liability of the guardianship? What does the auto insurance carrier do about coverage? What do you need to put in the client’s file to prove that the insurance company was made aware of their unique circumstances?

 

And, just for fun, what if the client is left having the authority to drive, but is without the right to contract? How do they have a car, if they can’t legally contract to have insurance on that car? What does that look like?

 

Again, it is rare that a person is placed under guardianship, but retains the right to drive. However, we have faced it with a few clients.

Have you dealt with this issue before? How did you deal with the pit falls? Leave us a comment and let us know about your experiences.

 

Health Care Surrogate Concerns – Hospital Trespasses Patient who is Unable to Discharge – April Newsletter

 

Chronicles of a Professional Guardian

 

Serving as Care Managers, Elderly & Disabled Life Care Plan Assessors, and providing Professional Guardian services in Central Florida for over 20 years, we have discovered unique solutions to many difficult problems.

 

We are continuing our tradition of giving back by sharing our knowledge in the hopes that this information can help others to better serve and care for our elderly and disabled population.

 


Health Care Surrogate Concerns – Hospital Trespasses Patient who is Unable to Discharge

 

OrlandoGuardian.com  Health Care Surrogate Concerns – Hospital Trespasses Patient who is Unable to Discharge

Image Credit John Msobaugh

For years I had heard that it was possible for a hospital to threaten to file trespassing charges against a patient if they failed to leave the premises, but I had always thought it was a joke, an urban legend, like that of seeing a Skunk Ape. Now I have experienced it firsthand.

 

Recently, we were assisting a family member named Dennis with care-management services, as he is the Health Care Surrogate (HCS) for his niece, Marlene. He provided us with a copy of a shocking letter that he received from one of our local hospitals, where Marlene had been at the ER.

 

The letter threatens legal action from the hospital against Dennis, stating that he must remove Marlene from their building immediately. They demand that he “take her home and find suitable arrangements for her.”

 

And that right there is the issue. If suitable arrangements existed for Marlene, whom the letter describes as mentally impaired, the hospital would have already discharged her. Yet now, they are demanding that Dennis do what even they cannot.

 

If Dennis does not comply, the hospital will:

  1. File trespassing charges against the patient, Marlene, who is currently in the hospital (and, yes, this letter is for real and is on official hospital letterhead)
  2. File a report with DCF for neglect and abandonment by a caregiver, in this case Dennis, which is punishable as a first degree felony

 

Aside from the obvious, there are a few other problems with this letter — mainly that the patient, Marlene, is an adult and is NOT adjudicated incapacitated.

 

This situation causes us to wonder – will this make others hesitate and really think about it when someone asks them “will you be my health care surrogate” (or power of attorney)?

 

And how far will this go. What about when a neighbor asks you, “Can you drive me to the doctor,” or “can you come over and bring me some soup,” or “can you pick up my meds at the pharmacy”? Will they not want to help just to avoid being labeled as the caregiver?

 

Once you put yourself in the position of “caregiver,” however that is defined, to whomever – a neighbor, a cousin, your chronically mentally-ill sister, a high school friend – are you then placing yourself in a position of potentially being held liable? Could you now be responsible to find them placement, or arrange for care, or have to stay with them if Adult Protective Services (APS) finds them at risk to be alone? Will it be your responsibility to make sure they have food, medication, a working phone?

 

And if you don’t, do you risk a felony?

 

For most of my career, I thought that this was just an urban legend. But for the first time, I have actually seen the Skunk Ape with my own eyes.

 


Did You Know?

 

That if you have any unpaid Federal taxes, the IRS can levy your Social Security benefits? Your benefits can also be garnished in order to collect unpaid child support or alimony, or in response to court ordered victims restitution.  SSI benefits, however, cannot be levied or garnished.

 

Treasury’s Financial Management service can also offset or reduce your Social Security benefits to collect delinquent debts owed to other Federal agencies, such as student loans owed to the Department of Education.

 


Tip of the Month

 

When Letters of Guardianship are drafted, whether ETG or Permanent, consider asking your attorney to add the words: “to address any and all federal and local tax issues on behalf of the Ward, and request and receive tax information from any source,” to the Letters.

 

We recently had difficulties dealing with IRS on a case, because they seemed to think that the words federal tax has to be on the Letters of Guardianship before they can acknowledge the Guardian as an authority for tax issues. We even talked to a supervisor about the issue, and they had a similar response.

 


Blog Posts:

 

Here are some of our recent blog posts, in case you missed any.

You can check out or blog at blog.orlandoguardian.com, or follow us online on Facebook or LinkedIn and never miss an article again.

 


Upcoming Guardian Care Events:

 

As active members of the community, we can be found around town speaking, sponsoring, supporting, and educating other professionals and the general public on Guardianship and caring for the elderly and disabled.

 

Want us to speak at your next event? Our topics include Guardianship, Private Care Management, and Elderly & Disabled Life Plan Assessment. Feel free to contact us at 407.786.6033.

 

Upcoming Events:

 

We currently have no upcoming events, but that’s likely to change in 2015, so contact us soon to schedule us at your next event as our calendar fills up quickly.

 

Previous Events:

  • November 20th – Presentation to a Social Work Class at UCF
  • October 9th – Presenting “Wards Gone Wild, Not Just Sex,” at the 2014 Elder Law Conference in Tampa
  • September 24 – Presentation “Help Your Aging Family Members,” at Serenades of Sonata
  • September 13 – Presentation “Wards Gone Wild, Not Just Sex,” at the 2014 Elder Law Conference in Boca Raton

Community Events

 

Click on the event for additional information.

2015 Report on Elder Financial Abuse

 

TrueLink Elder Financial Abuse Report InfoGraphic

Image Credit TrueLinkFinancial.com

In late January, 2015, True Link came out with their 2015 Report on Elder Financial Abuse. What they found was more shocking than previously imagined.

 

It was previously suspected that elder financial abuse ran about $2.9 billion dollars, annually. However, research now reveals that seniors lose $36.48 billion, annually, more than twelve times what was previously reported. It is estimated that 954,000 are currently skipping meals, or worse, as a result of this financial abuse.

 

Read the report to learn more information, find out who is most at risk, and discover what to watch out for.