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Understanding how guardianships work in Florida

As a resident of Florida who is considering establishing a guardianship over someone else, you may have questions about the process, your responsibilities and related matters.

Maybe you have a minor child in your life, and he or she is inheriting a considerable amount of money and needs someone to oversee the funds. Conversely, perhaps your mother or father is grappling with memory loss or a similar condition that prevents him or her from handling his or her own affairs, and you want to step in and take care of things.

Regardless of your reasoning for considering a guardianship, there are certain things you should know about securing one and assuming a certain level of responsibility over someone else.

Determining incapacitation

If you are looking to establish a guardianship because someone you know has become incapacitated, you will need to have a court determine that this individual is, in fact, unable to care for his or herself.

To do so, you can file a petition with the court, after which a small committee will assess the physical and mental state of the party in question. If the committee asserts that the person is, in fact, incapacitated, or incapacitated to some extent, committee members may recommend that the guardianship or some type of partial guardianship move forward.

Guardian responsibilities

Becoming someone else’s guardian involves adopting certain responsibilities. You may, for example, assume the responsibility of overseeing the incapacitated party’s property, and this typically involves securing court approval before performing certain financial transactions and filing annual reports with the court. It may, too, become your responsibility to make sure that this person has his or her medical, mental, emotional and housing needs met, depending on the condition of the incapacitated party.

Guardianships vary in terms of length, and they are not necessarily always permanent. In some cases, a party’s condition can improve, eliminating the need for a guardian, while in others, a guardianship may end if the guardian fails to perform the duties expected of someone in his or her position.

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