Creating And Protecting Your Legacy

Guardianship: what you need to know

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Elder Law and Medicaid Planning |

Life is full of curveballs, and they can affect the people you care about. For example, lives can change quickly with an aging parent who cannot manage their finances anymore or an injured relative who cannot make medical decisions regarding their health. This is where guardianship comes in.

What is guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal process in which the court determines an individual’s (also called the ward) incapacity to care for themselves and appoints a person to act on their behalf. This guardian acts as a substitute decision-maker for a minor or an adult with no mental or physical capacity to decide. The guardian manages the ward’s finances, ensures they get the necessary medical care and even decides where they live.

What are the types of guardianship?

Not all guardianships are the same and the type of guardianship depends on the ward’s capabilities and needs.

  • Full guardianship: Given to the proxy when an individual cannot manage all aspects of their life.
  • Limited guardianship: The court appoints a limited guardian if the ward is partially incapacitated but can still manage select activities.
  • Voluntary guardianship: This is an agreement in which the individual may need help with select activities but can terminate the guardianship at any time.
  • Emergency temporary guardianship: Granted during emergencies involving property loss or danger.
  • Guardian advocate arrangement: An arrangement in which an individual with a developmental disability or mental health disorder needs assistance managing personal activities.
  • Preneed guardianship: The ward appoints a guardian before they are physically or mentally incapacitated. The guardian only takes responsibility when or if this happens.

Each type has a unique set of rules and limitations. It is a complicated process, and you may seek legal guidance to help you understand it and navigate this journey smoothly.

What are the requirements for guardianship?

Each state has its own rules regarding guardianship. In Florida, any resident that is 18 years of age is qualified to serve as a guardian while non-residents qualify if they are direct descendants, a very close relative and has never been convicted of a felony. You must be thorough in choosing a competent and trusted guardian as they will eventually help you with significant decisions in the future.