How Do Florida Courts Appoint Guardians for Incapacitated People?
A guardian is a legal decision maker appointed by the court to make financial or other personal decisions on behalf of a ward. There are several circumstances in which a guardian may be needed:
- A minor’s parents are unable or unavailable to care for the child
- An adult has been incapacitated due to injury or illness
- A developmentally disabled adult requires a guardian to be their advocate and to manage their affairs
Family members frequently petition the courts to serve as guardians of their incapacitated loved ones. However, the guardian does not need to be a relative—it can be any competent adult, so long as that person does not have a felony conviction and is capable of discharging the duties of the position of guardian without being hindered due to incapacity of their own or other types of unfitness.
Florida law allows for both voluntary and involuntary guardianships. In a voluntary guardianship, the state appoints a guardian for an adult who, while mentally competent, is incapable of managing his or her estate and voluntarily petitions the government for a guardian. Involuntary guardianships involve wards who are incapable of managing their own affairs.
As previously mentioned, it is common for family members of the wards to petition the court to be named as the guardian for their loved one. In cases where no family member or close friend is available to petition the court, however, the court will provide a public guardian, if there is one in the circuit in which the person lives. There are also professional guardians who can be appointed to advocate for the ward.
In any circumstance, the guardian must be confirmed and officially appointed by the judge, even if that guardian is an immediate family member.
For more information on guardianships and how the courts appoint guardians in Florida, speak with a skilled Tampa estate planning attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.