Monthly case histories about the real guardianship experience
Guardianship Spotlight:
Bob Baumgarner, FSGA Area III Director
Retired Professional Guardian
How I Became Involved in Guardianship

Guardianship Senior Hands
I was working for 25 years  for the Adult Payments (nursing home Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, etc.) section of the Florida Department of Children and Families, determining financial eligibility of applicants for those programs.

Occasionally, a professional guardian would come to my office to apply on behalf of someone who was under guardianship, so one day I asked one of them what he had to do to become a guardian, and what he did for his wards. After he explained it all to me, I took the 40-hour guardianship course at my own expense. At the end of the course, the instructor hired me for her own agency.

I dealt not only with Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, V.A. income and other insurances for all of the agency's 120 wards, I was also a case manager for about 40 of them, so I would visit each at least once per month. Most were already living in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, but a few were able to live in their own apartments.

Guardianship Senior Citizen Hands
A Guardian's Guidance Leads to Restoration of Rights

The most memorable wards I had were three men, each of whom lived in his own apartment. (They didn't know each other.) They were more or less able to manage a small portion of their income each month, as far as buying groceries (I often took them to the grocery store) and having a little spending-money.

Eventually each of them saved enough to buy small amounts of illegal drugs, and ended up being arrested on drug charges at different times. So although each one received a court-appointed lawyer to defend against the charges, it was necessary for me to be with them in criminal court to testify that they were under guardianship and therefore should have additional leniency from the judge, such as being allowed to enter a pre-trial intervention program.

One of the three, a developmentally disabled but relatively high-functioning young man, had fathered two children with different mothers after he became a ward. His elder child, a girl, lived with her mother, but the younger child, a boy, was placed into the foster care system immediately after birth, due to the emotional disability of the child's mother.

Eventually the foster care agency found a married couple who wanted to adopt the boy, so I had to supervise two of their visits with the child and my ward. My ward couldn't visit the boy except with supervision. I had to explain to my ward why it was necessary that he allow the child to be adopted and to sign forms to formalize his voluntary termination of parental rights.

Eventually, one by one, in each of these three cases, my agency moved to end the guardianship and the court approved the restoration of all rights to the wards.
What is a good tip for those considering guardianship for a loved one?
Light Bulb

Your loved one will be examined by three medical professionals in order to help the judge decide whether the person needs a guardian. Even if one is appointed, it might not be necessary for the guardian to deal with all aspects of your loved one's life. The guardian is required by the judge to try to help you get the right services for your loved one so that ideally the guardian will do less and less. Your loved one has the right to send a letter to the judge any time they believe the guardian is not acting in their interests or when your loved one believes they no longer need to be under guardianship.

- Bob
We hope these articles are informative for you. Please keep in mind  that some of the views expressed are not necessarily the opinions or  philosophies of other FSGA members. We recommend hiring a guardian  that is a good fit for you.
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