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Frequently Asked Questions regarding Guardianships

What is a guardianship?
A guardianship is a legal action to appoint a guardian of a person, property, or both.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is an individual or entity (such as a nonprofit organization or bank) which is appointed by the court to care for an incapacitated person, a minor, or a person with developmental disabilities otherwise known as the “ward” or to care for the ward’s property.
Are there different types of guardians?
Yes. There are limited guardians, plenary guardians, preneed guardians, standby guardians, and guardian advocates.
Who may serve as a guardian?
Any adult (above 18 years of age) who is a resident of Florida may serve as a guardian whether related or unrelated to the ward. Additionally, professional, public guardians, or certain entities may serve as a guardian sometimes dependant on the type of guardianship. The court, however, will generally look at certain criteria to determine if a proposed guardian is suitable to act as the guardian.
Are there alternatives to guardianship?
Absolutely. In fact, Florida law requires the use of the least restrictive means to help individuals who cannot care for themselves or their property. Some of these options include powers of attorney, health care surrogates, and advance health care directives.
What are the duties of the guardian?
The duties of a guardian depend on the type of guardianship and the authority given to the guardian by the court. Generally, guardians of the person may exercise the rights which the court removed from the ward and delegated to the guardian. These may include the right to contract, the right to marry, the right to make medical decisions, and many more. Guardians of the property generally are required to invest the property prudently and to use it only for the ward’s support. Certain financial transactions require court approval.
What is a limited guardian?
A limited guardian is a guardian with powers to exercise only some legal rights on behalf of the ward.
What is a plenary guardian?
A plenary guardian is a guardian with the power to exercise all legal rights on behalf of the ward.
What is a preneed guardian?
A preneed guardian is a guardian named by a surviving parent or both parents to serve as the guardian of a minor child in case the parent becomes incapacitated or dies. A preneed guardian is provided a rebuttable presumption that he or she is entitled to serve as guardian.
What is a standby guardian?
A standby guardian is essentially a guardian in waiting, much like a preneed guardian. A guardian may petition the court to appoint a standby guardian who will basically replace the guardian if the guardian becomes incapacitated, removed, resigns, or dies.
What is a guardian advocate?
A guardian advocate is a guardian of an individual with a developmental disability as defined in Section 393.063(9), Florida Statutes.