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Not all guardianships are created equal

It can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that you or your loved one lacks the capacity to manage various medical, financial and lifestyle matters. Whether this deficiency stems from age or mental incapacity, it can be very upsetting to realize that someone else needs to step in to make certain decisions on that person’s behalf.

This is the role that a guardian will serve. Considering how much responsibility this person has and all that can be at stake, it can be crucial to understand what will be expected of this person. In order to understand this, you must understand that there are different types of guardianships recognized in the state of Florida.

There are voluntary and involuntary guardianships, which are fairly self-explanatory, as well as minors and adult guardianship. Guardians for minors are typically appointed when a child’s parents cannot provide care or if the child receives a considerable sum of money through inheritance or legal claims.

Guardianships for adults are divided into two different types: limited and plenary. The type of guardianship will depend on the extent of a ward’s decision-making skills. If a person is still able to manage some aspects regarding medical and financial decisions, a limited guardianship will typically suffice because it does not delegate all decision-making powers to the guardian. A plenary guardianship, on the other hand, will because the courts will have determined that the ward is unable to care for himself or herself.

In deciding which type of guardianship is appropriate, it is critical and required by law that the least restrictive type be favored. This means that the courts should not give a guardian more legal rights and powers than is absolutely necessary.

Considering the various types of guardianships that are recognized in Florida and the fact that any guardian will be expected to act in the best interests of the ward, appointment of guardians must be done thoughtfully and in accordance with state law. If you have any questions or hesitations about being appointed as a guardian or appointing someone else as a guardian, it can be wise to consult an attorney.

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