Guardianship

What is a guardianship?

A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit courts of Florida in which a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person.

What is a guardian?

A guardian is an individual or institution appointed by the court to care for an incapacitated person.

Who is incapacitated?

An incapacitated person is an adult who has been judicially determined to lack the capacity to manage at least some of his or her property or to meet at least some essential health and safety requirements.

How is a person determined to be incapacitated?

Any adult may file a petition with the court to determine another person's incapacity, setting forth the factual information upon which they base their belief that the person is incapacitated.

Who may serve as guardian?

Any adult resident of Florida, related or unrelated to the potential ward, can serve as a guardian. Certain relatives of the ward who do not live in Florida also may serve as guardian.

What does a guardian do?

A guardian who is given authority over property of the ward is required to inventory the property, invest it prudently, use it for the ward's support and account for it by filing detailed annual reports with the court. The guardian of the ward's person may exercise those rights that have been removed from the ward and delegated to the guardian, such as providing medical, mental and personal care services and determining the place and kind of residential setting best suited for the ward.

Is a guardian accountable?

Yes. A guardian must be represented by an attorney who will serve as "attorney of record." Guardians are usually required to furnish a bond and may be required to complete a court-approved training program.

What about guardians for minors?

A child's parents are the child's natural guardians and in general may act for the child. In circumstances where the parents die or become incapacitated or if a child receives an inheritance or proceeds of a lawsuit or insurance policy exceeding $15,000, the court must appoint a guardian.