Law inspired by I-Team investigation arrives on governor's desk

Law would offer more protection for wards

A bill providing new protections for our most vulnerable citizens arrived on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk Thursday. 
 
The protections were inspired by an ABC Action News I-Team investigation.
 
The law, which is expected to receive the governor’s signature at any time, affects tens of thousands of Floridians who have lost their rights and have court-appointed professional guardians.
 
Sen. Jeff Brandes sponsored the bill after learning about Willi Berchau.
 
We first reported last September that Berchau, 99 years old at the time, was in a locked-down unit for Alzheimer’s Disease patients even though he didn't belong there.
 
After we got involved, he was moved out of the unit and eventually had all his rights restored by the court.
 
Berchau recently celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and supporters. He now lives independently and free from a guardianship program.
 
The new law will give more power to local clerks of courts to investigate issues with guardianships and will provide better oversight.
 
It will go into effect on July 1.
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