A guardianship is a legal proceeding to grant authority to an individual to care and protect another. A guardian is a surrogate decision maker appointed to manage the finances, healthcare and living arrangements for a minor, an elderly person that is deemed incapacitated, or a developmentally delayed adult. In these cases, the court intervenes when there are issues related to health, safety, or matters of exploitation. A guardianship process begins when a concerned person or government agency files a petition to determine capacity of an alleged incapacitated person with the court. In voluntary guardianships, an adult can file their own petition to the court if they feel they are incapable of managing their own affairs. A limited guardianship is appropriate if the person, also called a ward of the court, can mange some, but not all of his or her daily living tasks. A plenary guardianship gives the guardian the right to manage all the aspects of a ward’s life, as they have been deemed incapable to care for their person or property in its entirety. A court appointed guardian can be a temporary or permanent arrangement, depending on the circumstances of each case.

Determination of Incapacity for an Adult

When a person or government agency files a court petition to determine competency for an adult, an examining committee will be assigned to the case. This committee is apprised of mental health and medical professionals who will assess the individual and report their findings to the court. If the person is deemed incapacitated, a petition can be filed for the appointment of a guardian. A guardian can be any interested, competent person, such as a spouse, an adult child, or a friend that the court feels will act in the person’s best interest. To ensure that the guardian is acting in accordance with the law in the State of Florida, they are to submit an annual guardian report to the court. This report will monitor the actions of the guardian and it must include the medical, mental, social, and physical care of the ward as well as documentation of how the ward’s assets have been utilized. Guardians that fail to fulfill their responsibilities can be removed from the role or other sanctions may be imposed.

A Guardian for a Child has Parental Responsibilities

Florida law requires that a guardian be appointed by the court for minor children when the parents die, become incapacitated, are incarcerated, or they do not provide a safe environment in the home. Following the death of the parents, a child can receive funds through life insurance payoffs, lawsuit settlements, or an inheritance that needs to be managed by a guardian with fiduciary responsibilities. A guardian for a child is usually in effect until the age of 18, unless the court determines that a guardian is no longer needed, such as a reunification of a family following an abuse case. A guardian for a child has the role to provide for all of the child’s daily needs and care, including food, clothing, housing, educational and social opportunities, medical care, and safeguarding their assets. A guardian is required to file annual plans regarding the child’s living arrangements and finances.

Attorney Carsandra D. Buie Provides Quality Representation for Her Clients

Guardianships for minors or adults are often complex and emotional. When guardianship is contested, litigation may be necessary. If you are seeking to file a court petition to determine competency for a dependent, the legal counsel of an experienced attorney is an invaluable asset. Carsandra D. Buie is a general practice attorney that has the empathy, understanding, and knowledge to help you with your case. Call our office at 800-219-3297 today to schedule a consultation.