Red flags are areas of concern that the Clerk’s Inspector General (IG) Department may have regarding assets, income, or disbursements. When one or more red flags are identified during an annual accounting, assessment, or audit, a guardianship auditor investigates the areas of concern. The auditor compares the investigation findings to Florida Guardianship Law, Florida Probate Rules, and Court Orders. The findings are reported to the court, and if necessary to local, state, or federal law enforcement officials as well as to other appropriate state and federal agencies.
The Enhanced Guardianship Audit Program targets anyone who preys upon the vulnerability of an incapacitated or minor ward in Lee County including, but not limited to, guardians, attorneys, caregivers, family members, friends, and neighbors.
The IG Department is especially concerned when:
- Allegations of fraud, waste, abuse and financial mismanagement are reported to the Inspector General Hotline or are received through an anonymous tip.
- There is significant family discourse.
- The guardianship assets are unprotected.
- A trust is involved.
- There are unusual transactions, such as real estate, gift cards, vehicles, credit cards, or vacations.
- Accountings are amended, inaccurate, unorganized, or submitted untimely.
- Large or frequent amounts of cash are withdrawn (miscellaneous or incidentals cash).
- There is a lack of supporting documentation, especially proof of payment and what is benefit to the ward.
- Income, assets, or disbursements are missing, omitted, or incorrect on inventory.
- Attorney and guardian fees do not fully detail date and tasks performed as well as the benefit to the ward.
- There is a no separation of duties and there are direct and indirect conflicts of interest.
- The ward has no relatives or is isolated from friends and family.
- The guardianship assets are large and financial transactions are complex.
- The family guardian, caregiver, or family member is unemployed or underemployed.
- The guardian, attorney, caregiver, or family member is living a more expensive lifestyle.
- The attorney or guardian is suspended, discharged, fired or quits.
- There are large disbursements or purchases that are subsequently ratified by court order.
- There is singular control over the guardianship with non-adversarial proceedings and lack of oversight.
- Unacceptable accounting practices are used.
- The guardian is not bonded. Education requirement is waived. There was no criminal background check.
- The guardian and/or attorney does not have relevant guardianship experience.
- The guardian, attorney, caregiver, or family member is having significant financial difficulty.
- The attorney has been the subject of an investigation or disciplinary actions by The Florida Bar.
- The guardian or ward's last known whereabouts are unknown. No one as seen ward or caregiver.
- There are allegations of physical abuse.