How do you protect parents from children or others?

Sometimes I get phone calls from potential clients, and the story goes something like this: Father is being exploited by a child, or a nephew, or what have you. That child has a power of attorney from Father, and the child is transferring money to himself.  The child is cashing out life insurance policies, closing bank accounts, and otherwise taking Daddy for a ride.
If this is happening, you have a few options. The relatively easy, cheap, option is to make a report to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Adult Protective Services. In fact, if  you know of an adult who is being abused, Florida law requires you to report it.  Their phone number is 1-800-962-2873; or  you can report it on line here:
Having said that, in my experience, DCF, while vigilant, does not always agree with the reporter for whatever reason.  The abuse usually needs to be clear cut and obvious; and there is not always a clear line between voluntary behavior and coercive behavior.  Nonetheless, if you are concerned you certainly should make the phone call; in some cases I have seen DCF come out, talk the alleged abuser, DCF closes the case as unfounded, but the alleged abuser will then straighten up and fly right as it were.
The other option is to bring a guardianship.  A guardianship is a two step process; first, a judge must determine whether the person is competent, or capable of managing their affairs. If the judge finds that the person is not capable of managing their own affairs, then the judge appoints a guardian to manage that persons affairs;  both personal and financial affairs.
Without going into an extended explanation of the mechanics, essentially an interested party, such as a child or spouse, files paperwork setting out why they think the person is incapable of managing their affairs; the judge then appoints an attorney for the person and also orders that the person be examined by several professionals, including a psychiatrist.  Those professionals report back to the judge and while the judge does not have to accept their recommendation, the judge nearly always does so.  Once the judge finds the person incapacitated, then the judge decides who would be the best individual to look after the person; there are a number of factors that I am not going to get into here, but the point is that as part of the process, usually all recent financial dealings are exposed; if someone has been transferring money from Father to themselves, this is likely to come out during the process. And if the judge is convinced that someone has been stealing from them, the judge can order that this be fixed.
I, personally, do not handle many routine guardianships; there are a number of attorneys who handle these on a regular basis, and nearly all of them are fine attorneys. However, I do occasionally handle ‘contested’ guardianships; particularly where two or more people are trying to get appointed as guardian.

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