As more Americans live longer yet require different types of care, the issue of elder abuse has become more prominent than ever before. For some Floridians, there can come a time when they need to have a guardian appointed. A legal guardian can manage a person’s affairs and, in so doing, have access to the ward’s finances. The guardian may be a relative or other known person. However, there are also professional guardians that can be appointed if no other person is available.

The wife of a Florida circuit judge became a professional guardian five years ago. Reports indicate that she is accused of unethically taking money from several of her wards. This was allegedly done through excessive fees related to potentially unnecessary litigation, double billing, or even funneling money to relatives of the wards. An increase in the financial status for the woman and her husband is noted to coincide with her time as a professional guardian.

Recently, her husband was moved from his role in the Probate and Guardianship Division in Delray Beach. He will now hear civil cases in the Civil Court in West Palm Beach. The job transfer comes on the heels of an investigation involving potential misconduct on the judge’s part as well as on his wife’s part. The judge has been involved in an elder care program and his future involvement in this program remains unknown at this time.

The exploitation of elderly people can happen at the hands of those who love them or at the hands of complete strangers. Either way, the problem requires prompt attention. Anyone suspecting elder abuse may wish to consult with a lawyer to understand what help is available.

Luis E. Barreto