It may be difficult for most in Miami to comprehend losing the ability to care for themselves. However, traumatic events or the effects of age can easily place one in the position of relying on a guardian to help meet his or her basic needs. While it is often the court (rather than the ward) who chooses who a guardian may be, it is important to understand that there are several different types of guardianships, each of which is allowed different degrees of authority.
The Florida State Statues list the different types of guardians (and to what degree they are empowered) as follows:
- Plenary guardian: A plenary guardian is granted all delegable powers and authorities by the court to act in ward's stead.
- Limited guardian: As the name implies, as limited guardian is given certain powers, while the ward retains others that the court believes he or she is capable of managing.
- Guardian ad litem: This type of guardian is appointed by the court to represent a ward in a pending legal proceeding.
- Guardian advocate: Guardian advocates are assigned by the court to people with developmental disabilities. Such cases do not require that the ward be incapacitated.
In addition, the court may also appoint a surrogate guardian to fill in for a primary guardian when such person is unable to fulfill his or her duties.
The Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship association reports that there was estimated to be as many 100,000 guardianship cases in Florida as recently as 2015. Not all of those may be court-appointed guardians, however. One can name his or her own guardian through a written declaration in which he or she establishes the conditions under which such authority would be granted. This role is referred to as a preneed guardian.