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2015 Florida Legislative Update

Florida Statutes Chapter 744 which governs guardianship proceedings was amended relating to the settlement of claims for incapacitated adults and minors effective July 1, 2015. Here are the highlights:

  1. Confidentiality: The portion of the court file relating to the settlement of a claim is confidential.  A party must establish good cause and only then is the record subject to being inspected by the court, clerk, guardian, guardian’s attorney and the guardian ad litem or a minor at least 14 years of age. F.S. 744.3701.  This means the petition to approve a settlement on behalf of a ward or a minor, the report of the guardian ad litem and the order approving the settlement are all confidential documents.
  2. Appointment of a GAL: Previously F.S. 744.3025  allowed a court to appoint a GAL for a minor when the gross settlement exceeded $15,000.00. Now, the Court has discretion to appoint a GAL taking into account whether a GAL is necessary to protect the minor’s interests.  So if a guardian of the minor was already appointed and that guardian has no potential adverse interest to the minor the court does not have to appoint a GAL.  Be careful in cases where the parent is appointed guardian of a minor and the parent has a derivative claim. It could potentially appear that the allocation of the proceeds between the primary claim of the minor and the derivative claim of the parent(s) creates an adverse interest. The courts are still required to appoint a GAL to represent a minor when the gross settlement equals or exceeds $50,000.00.