Guardianship is the term describing a relationship between a person who is incapacitated by mental and (or) physical infirmities or disabilities and another adult person who is appointed by the Court to make decisions for the incapacitated person. Guardianships are also instituted for children in cases where parents pass away or cannot care for their child. Children also must have guardianships if they are to receive monies from a lawsuit, insurance policies, or inheritances in excess of the statutory amount (currently $15,000). A guardian is the person appointed by the court and the ward is the person being protected by the guardianship.
Guardianship proceedings may be initiated by children, parents, siblings or by other persons with an interest in protecting the person in need. Decisions handled by the guardian include financial, personal care, and others as directed by the Court. In Florida a person is adjudicated a “ward” only if there is no other, less restrictive means to accomplish the care of the person. Alternatives are possible and can be planned with a skilled attorney including Health Care Surrogate Designation, trusts such as Special Needs Trust, or others. The Court will determine what is in the best interest of the ward and direct that course of action which can be a full or partial guardianship. We have also compiled a list of online resources for potential Guardians here.
Guardianship is not necessarily permanent and can be modified in scope if the ward regains their ability to make decisions for all or a portion of their care. A Preneed Guardian Declaration can be helpful to your family should any of your incapacity planning documents be insufficient.
An attorney is your greatest resource for information about guardianship. If you or a loved one has received notice that guardianship proceedings have been started against you – call us today for an immediate appointment. Delays in responding or incorrect responses can cost time, money, and independence. Our attorneys are available by phone 24/7 to help you.