Our decision-making capacity gives us independence and control over our person and finances. When someone loses this capacity, they may become vulnerable to people who take advantage of their situation. If one of your loved ones can no longer make decisions for themselves, you can protect them by setting up a guardianship. There are two types of adult guardianships in Florida. The one that could help your loved one will depend on their specific circumstances.
Limited or plenary guardianship
Through guardianship, you can appoint someone to make financial and medical decisions on your loved one’s behalf. This can only happen if there is a qualifying disability. The court won’t accept a guardianship petition unless they have proof of your loved one’s disability. If the court finds that your loved one is unable to make decisions, they will order either a limited or plenary guardianship.
The judge will order a limited guardianship for your loved one (known legally as the “ward”) if he or she finds that the ward can make some decisions about their care and finances, but not all of them. In these cases, the court will make note specifically of what a guardian can and can’t do.
In a plenary guardianship, the guardian takes care of all the ward’s affairs. Plenary guardianships are for people who cannot manage their property or care for their person at all.
Guardian of the estate or the person
There are two subsets of limited guardianships: guardians of the estate and guardians of the person. The guardian of the estate manages the ward’s property and assets. They invest the assets and use them to support the ward.
The guardian of the person makes decisions about the ward’s healthcare, residence placement and medical treatment. Both types of guardians have the purpose of ensuring the ward’s well-being and protecting them from making bad decisions, but the right type of guardianship for your loved one will depend on their level of disability.
Protection for your loved one
You don’t want a loved one to be taken advantage of. Also, the idea of them making a damaging decision, such as selling their home or stopping a needed medication, can be nerve-wracking to think about. However, you can address those worries by planning in advance and setting up a limited or plenary guardianship for your loved one.