What is the difference between voluntary and involuntary guardianships?

A guardianship is when the court gives one person the authority over another person. A guardian may have the right to make personal and financial decisions for the person or the decision-making rights may have a limit to only personal or only financial. 

According to the Florida Courts, guardianships may be involuntary or voluntary. The label applies to how a person enters a guardianship. 

Involuntary guardianship 

An involuntary guardianship is one in which the person who requires the guardian is unable to make the decision for him or herself. For example, if your mother has dementia and is not mentally capable of understanding what a guardianship is or how it would affect her life, then the court would not let her appoint someone as her guardian. Instead, the court would hold a hearing and choose the guardian for her. The court would also set the limitations and rights of the guardian. 

Voluntary guardianship 

A voluntary guardianship is one in which a person is mentally competent and can appoint his or her own guardian. In this situation, your mother would petition the court for the appointment of a guardian, and the court would discuss the options with her to make a final ruling on appointment. 

Legal requirements 

The court will always try to do a voluntary guardianship for an adult because it is the least restrictive form, and as an adult, the person has certain rights to managing his or her own affairs. The court will likely require evidence to show a person lacks the mental competency to trigger an involuntary guardianship. 

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