In our last post, we examined a little more closely the role of a trustee, or the person assigned power and control over a trust. However, there are other people who can be assigned decision-making roles that impact a person's financial wishes. For instance, a guardian may be appointed in situations where a person -- referred to as the ward -- is incapacitated and cannot make decisions on his or her own.
Like a trustee, the guardian is expected to act on behalf of a ward and make decisions that are in his or her best interests. However, guardians also do many other things.
As stated by Florida guardianship laws, a guardian is granted many different powers to allow the person to do his or her job effectively. A guardian can:
- Invest a ward's property
- Take possession of profits from a ward's property
- Make personal decisions on behalf of the ward
- Make financial decisions on behalf of the ward
- Make medical decisions on behalf of the ward
However, a guardian will also be tasked with several obligations or duties as well. These responsibilities include:
- Regularly visiting with the ward to monitor his or her welfare
- Paying bills, like rent and utilities
- Keeping an accurate and thorough accounting of a ward's property
- Managing guardianship property in a reasonable and responsible manner
- Acting in the best interests of the ward
As you should see, guardians are given considerable control and power over a ward's financial and physical well-being. That is why the role also comes with considerable responsibilities. Failure to comply with these responsibilities in a suitable manner can lead to severe legal penalties.
If you are looking to have a guardian appointed or if you have been appointed as a guardian, it will be crucial to understand what the role entails and what is specifically expected of the person in that role. For more information on guardianships in Florida, consult an experienced attorney.