Becoming a guardian is a big decision and serving in such a role carries a lot of responsibility. As a guardian you will serve as a decision-maker once you are appointed by the Judge in a guardianship proceeding. The person you will be assisting is referred to as the Ward. You can be invested with duties to make decisions about the Ward’s financial affairs, personal affairs, and/or healthcare. An adult or a child may have a guardian appointed.
Here in Brevard County and in all of Florida the law requires a guardian for minor children in circumstances such as upon the death of the parents die or if the parents become incapacitated. Also in Flroida if a minor inherits money or is awarded funds in a personal injury or other court case a guardian must be appointed.
When the court hears a guardianship matter the alleged incapacitated person is evaluated by a committee of three professionals including at least one medical doctor. A person may be found to be partially or fully incapacitated. The court seeks to find the ‘least restrictive’ manner to assist an incapacitated person, minor or adult, and will use a limited guardianship to preserve some rights for the Ward. A Durable Power of Attorney prepared by one of the experienced wills/trusts lawyer at Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley may be the best defense to a potential guardianship. A well written DPOA will award the necessary authority to a person of your choice and this choice is evidenced, in writing, in your DPOA. This allows the court to use the ‘least restrictive’ method should you become incapacitated. Read more about a power of attorney in Florida in Chapter 709 of the Florida Statutes.
A person in Florida may voluntarily accept a guardianship and this is done for many reasons such as if an adult is disabled and not able to handle his/her own finances. A limited guardian of the property may be sufficient to assist the adult in such a situation. Public guardians are available to assist those that cannot afford the guardianship process however the waiting list to have a public guardian appointed is very long.
Florida Statute 744 parts 1 through 8 is where you can read the codified language in our state laws on guardianship. There are also Rules of Court that impact and govern the proceedings to become a guardian – you can read them in the Florida Rules of Court, Probate Rules. These two sources are where most of the duties and responsibilities of a guardian are stated. The laws help ensure the Ward, whether adult or child, is properly served, not taken advantage of and all of it done in the least restrictive manner possible.
Call to speak with one of our knowledgeable guardianship attorneys, it is important that your lawyer be able to guide you through the process of becoming a guardian. (321) 676-2150 or (321) 631-0506 – two offices to serve you in Melbourne and Cocoa, Florida.