In today's post, the third in an ongoing series, we'll continue our exploration of guardianships under Florida law, meaning the legal process by which concerned parties can seek to have someone -- a guardian -- appointed to provide care for and handle the assets of a loved one they believe to be incapacitated.
Specifically, we'll look at who is eligible to serve as guardian, as well as their obligations to both the incapacitated person and the court.
When it comes to the issue of eligibility to serve as guardian, it's more a matter of who can't serve in this role than who can.
Indeed, any adult resident (either related or unrelated), certain out-of-state relatives, public guardians, professional guardians, non-profit corporations and bank trust departments can serve as guardian. However, the latter two can only serve as guardian of the ward's assets, not the actual ward.
As for those who can't serve as guardian, those who have a felony conviction on their record, are unable to carry out the required duties of a guardian or whose appointment might present a conflict of interest are all excluded by state law.
It's important to understand that, if possible, the court will give due consideration to the wishes of the ward when making the actual appointment.
As to their responsibilities, a guardian will be expected to do the following:
- If granted authority over the ward's assets, conduct a proper inventory, make prudent investment decisions (securing court approval if necessary), use the proceeds for the care and support of the ward, and file an annual report with the court.
- If granted authority over the ward, ensure they are provided with the necessary medical, personal and mental care, determine proper living arrangements, and file an annual report with the court.
- If granted authority over the ward and/or their assets, furnish a bond, complete any ordered training programs and secure legal representation to serve as "attorney of record."
Failure to fulfill these duties may result in the person or entity being removed from their role as guardian.
Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you would like to learn more about guardianships or other estate planning measures.