402.17 Claims for care and maintenance; trust property.—The Department of Children and Family Services and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities shall protect the financial interest of the state with respect to claims that the state may have for the care and maintenance of clients of the department or agency. The department or agency shall, as trustee, hold in trust and administer money and property designated for the personal benefit of clients. The department or agency shall act as trustee of clients’ money and property entrusted to it in accordance with the usual fiduciary standards applicable generally to trustees, and shall act to protect both the short-term and long-term interests of the clients for whose benefit it is holding such money and property.
(1) CLAIMS FOR CARE AND MAINTENANCE.—
(a) The department or agency shall perform the following acts:
1. Receive and supervise the collection of sums due the state.
2. Bring any court action necessary to collect any claim the state may have against any client, former client, guardian of any client or former client, executor or administrator of the client’s estate, or any person against whom any client or former client may have a claim.
3. Obtain a copy of any inventory or appraisal of the client’s property filed with any court.
4. Obtain from the department’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Services Program Office a financial status report on any client or former client, including the ability of third parties responsible for such client to pay all or part of the cost of the client’s care and maintenance.
5. Petition the court for appointment of a guardian or administrator for an otherwise unrepresented client or former client should the financial status report or other information indicate the need for such action. The cost of any such action shall be charged against the assets or estate of the client.
6. Represent the interest of the state in any litigation in which a client or former client is a party.
7. File claims with any person, firm, or corporation or with any federal, state, county, district, or municipal agency on behalf of an unrepresented client.
8. Represent the state in the settlement of the estates of deceased clients or in the settlement of estates in which a client or a former client against whom the state may have a claim has a financial interest.
9. Establish procedures by rule for the use of amounts held in trust for the client to pay for the cost of care and maintenance, if such amounts would otherwise cause the client to become ineligible for services which are in the client’s best interests.
(b) The department or agency may charge off accounts if it certifies that the accounts are uncollectible after diligent efforts have been made to collect them. If the department certifies an account to the Department of Financial Services, setting forth the circumstances upon which it predicates the uncollectibility, and if, pursuant to s. 17.04, the Department of Financial Services concurs, the account shall be charged off.
(2) MONEY OR OTHER PROPERTY RECEIVED FOR PERSONAL USE OR BENEFIT OF ANY CLIENT.—The department or agency shall perform the following acts:
(a) Accept and administer in trust, as a trustee having a fiduciary responsibility to a client, any money or other property received for personal use or benefit of that client. In the case of children in the legal custody of the department, following the termination of the parental rights, until the child leaves the legal custody of the department due to adoption or attaining the age of 18 or, in the case of children who are otherwise in the custody of the department, the court having jurisdiction over such child shall have jurisdiction, upon application of the department or other interested party, to review or approve any extraordinary action of the department acting as trustee as to the child’s money or other property. When directed by a court of competent jurisdiction, the department may further hold money or property of a child who has been in the care, custody, or control of the department and who is the subject of a court proceeding during the pendency of that proceeding.
(b) Deposit the money in banks qualified as state depositories, or in any bank, credit union, or savings and loan association authorized to do business in this state, provided moneys so deposited or held by such institutions are fully insured by a federal depository or share insurance program, or an approved state depository or share insurance program, and are available on demand.
(c) Withdraw the money and use it to meet current needs of clients. For purposes of this paragraph, “current needs” includes payment of fees assessed under s. 402.33. The amount of money withdrawn shall take into account the need of the department or agency, as the trustee of a client’s money and property, to provide for the long-term needs of a client, including, but not limited to, ensuring that a client under the age of 18 will have sufficient financial resources available to be able to function as an adult upon reaching the age of 18, meeting the special needs of a client who has a disability and whose special needs cannot otherwise be met by any form of public assistance or family resources, or maintaining the client’s eligibility for public assistance, including medical assistance, under state or federal law.
(d) As trustee, invest in the manner authorized by law for fiduciaries money not used for current needs of clients. Such investments may include, but shall not be limited to, investments in savings share accounts of any credit union chartered under the laws of the United States and doing business in this state, and savings share accounts of any credit union chartered under the laws of this state, provided the credit union is insured under the federal share insurance program or an approved state share insurance program.
(3) DEPOSIT OF FUNDS RECEIVED.—Funds received by the Department of Children and Family Services in accordance with s. 402.33 shall be deposited into a trust fund for the operation of the department.
(4) DISPOSITION OF UNCLAIMED TRUST FUNDS.—Upon the death of any client affected by the provisions of this section, any unclaimed money held in trust by the department, the agency, or by the Chief Financial Officer for the child shall be applied first to the payment of any unpaid claim of the state against the client, and any balance remaining unclaimed for a period of 1 year shall escheat to the state as unclaimed funds held by fiduciaries.
(5) LEGAL REPRESENTATION.—To the extent that the budget will permit, the Department of Legal Affairs shall furnish the legal services to carry out the provisions of this section. Upon the request of the department or agency, the various state and county attorneys shall assist in litigation within their jurisdiction. The department or agency may retain legal counsel for necessary legal services which cannot be furnished by the Department of Legal Affairs and the various state and county attorneys.
(6) DEPOSIT OR INVESTMENT OF FUNDS OF CLIENTS.—
(a) The department or agency may deposit any funds of clients in its possession in any bank in the state or may invest or reinvest such funds in bonds or obligations of the United States for the payment of which the full faith and credit of the United States is pledged. For purposes of deposit only, the funds of any client may be mingled with the funds of any other clients.
(b) The interest or increment accruing on such funds shall be the property of the clients and shall be used or conserved for the personal use or benefit of the client, in accordance with the department’s or agency’s fiduciary responsibility as a trustee for the money and property of the client. Such interest shall not accrue to the general welfare of all clients. Whenever any proposed action of the department or agency, acting in its own interest, may conflict with the department’s or agency’s fiduciary responsibility to the client, the department or agency shall promptly present the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction for the court’s determination as to what action the department or agency may take. The department or agency shall establish reasonable fees by rule for the cost of administering such accounts and for establishing the minimum balance eligible to earn interest.
(7) DISPOSITION OF MONEY AND PROPERTY OF CLIENTS UPON ATTAINING AGE 18 OR DISCHARGE FROM CARE, CUSTODY, CONTROL, OR SERVICES OF THE DEPARTMENT.—
(a) Whenever a client of the department for whom the department is holding money or property as a trustee attains the age of 18, and thereby will no longer be in the legal custody of the department, the department shall promptly disburse such money and property to that client, or as that client directs, as soon as practicable.
(b) Whenever a client of the department over the age of 18 for whom the department is holding money or property as a trustee no longer requires the care, custody, control, or services of the department, the department shall promptly disburse such money and property to that client, or as that client or a court directs, as soon as practicable.
(c) When a client under the age of 18 who has been in the legal custody, care, or control of the department and for whom the department is holding money or property as a trustee attains the age of 18 and has a physical or mental disability, or is otherwise incapacitated or incompetent to handle that client’s own financial affairs, the department shall apply for a court order from a court of competent jurisdiction to establish a trust on behalf of that client. Where there is no willing relative of the client acceptable to the court available to serve as trustee of such proposed trust, the court may enter an order authorizing the department to serve as trustee of a separate trust under such terms and conditions as the court determines appropriate to the circumstances.
(d) When a client under the age of 18 who has been in the legal custody, care, or control of the department and for whom the department is holding money or property as a trustee leaves the care, custody, and control of the department due to adoption or placement of the client with a relative, or as otherwise directed by a court of competent jurisdiction, the department shall notify that court of the existence of the money and property either prior to, or promptly after, receiving knowledge of the change of custody, care, or control. The department shall apply for an order from the court exercising jurisdiction over the client to direct the disposition of the money and property belonging to that client. The court order may establish a trust in which the money and property of the client will be deposited, appoint a guardian of a property as to the money or property of the client, or direct the creation of a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account on behalf of that client, under the terms and conditions the court determines appropriate to the circumstances.
History.—s. 2, ch. 59-222; s. 1, ch. 65-279; ss. 11, 19, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 70-341; s. 1, ch. 70-439; s. 1, ch. 72-350; s. 25, ch. 73-334; s. 131, ch. 79-190; s. 1, ch. 79-269; s. 1, ch. 83-59; s. 17, ch. 85-167; s. 1, ch. 85-187; s. 808, ch. 95-148; s. 1, ch. 96-402; s. 137, ch. 99-8; s. 58, ch. 2000-139; s. 425, ch. 2003-261; s. 46, ch. 2006-227.