Guardianships: How They Work
You may encounter questions related to guardianship as you perform estate planning tasks. If you are creating a trust, you may need to provide for the care of minor children or grandchildren. Or you may be assisting an older relative with estate planning who lacks an advanced directive and can no longer make decisions about their day-to-day affairs and medical care.
Do not be intimidated by Florida’s guardianship laws. I am attorney Donald Witmyer and my law firm assists families with estate planning and administration. You can trust my decades of experience as a lawyer and my commitment to ethical service as a Christian.
Appointing A Guardian For A Minor Child Or A Vulnerable Adult
If you have a minor child or grandchild for whom you need to name a guardian, you may do that by naming one in a will or trust document. Consulting a lawyer to draft this all-important document will ensure your wishes are carried out if you pass away.
If you are arranging a guardianship for a vulnerable adult, you will need to file three documents with the courts: one petitioning to have the adult judged in need of a guardian, one to petition for a guardian to be appointed, and one to apply to be that adult’s guardian.
After the guardianship is granted, you will need to attend a course on guardianship, as well as a criminal background check and a credit check. As your loved one’s guardian, you are responsible for:
- Their living arrangements
- Maintaining their property and filing a report with the court
- Overseeing their medical, mental and personal care
Advance Directives And Guardianship
If you are doing estate planning for yourself, you may spell out your desires related to how you want to be cared for through an advance directive such as a health care power of attorney. In 2015, Florida overhauled its laws related to advance directives. Currently, “attorneys in fact” (your designated representative) may only have the powers that you enumerate in your directive. Also, the new laws allow your agent to act in your stead immediately before any determination of incapacity is made.