As you prepare your estate plans, one thing you may have to consider is the need for guardianship. A guardian is a person with the legal right to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself. The guardian can make decisions on finances, care or both. The guardianship can have a limit on power if you desire.
Guardians are most beneficial when there are children involved, whether they are minors or adults with special needs. However, guardianships are also useful if you become incapacitated due to an accident, medical condition or aging. Whom you name as guardian depends on your circumstances, the duties you want the person to have and Florida law
The primary requirements for guardianship according to Florida legislation are that the person must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the state. If the person is not a resident of Florida, he or she must be a relative of yours in one of the ways outlined in statute 744.309 (2). Those who are ineligible to serve include convicted felons, child abusers and incapacitated persons. For those who serve you in some professional capacity, such as judges, doctors or businessmen, additional requirements apply for them to qualify as guardians.
Choices in a guardian
Most often, a family member, friend or other regular person becomes a guardian. However, they are not your only options. You can also choose from the following:
- Financial companies: Certain financial institutions can act as guardians of your assets.
- Corporations: Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations are eligible for guardianship appointments, but for-profit entities have much stricter requirements.
- Health care providers: Your medical provider can become your guardian as long as no conflict of interest exists.
An estate planning attorney can help you decide whom to appoint and in what capacity. Factors to consider are your needs and the background, ability and willingness of each candidate.