Guardianship is used in times when a person can no longer make decisions about their health care or finances. When a person loses their mental capacity to make decisions themselves, Florida law allows guardianships to be put into place to protect them.
Becoming a guardian means one of two things in the state. The first kind of guardianship, a guardianship of the person, allows you to help a loved one make health care decisions. Personal decisions and health care needs fall under this category, but you won’t have to make financial decisions.
A guardianship of property allows a person to take care of a loved one’s finances and assets. You may help them pay bills or manage property that they own.
In either case, an elderly person may decide to initiate a voluntary guardianship if they know that they are losing their ability to care for themselves or their finances. With this, the court doesn’t necessarily have to be involved.
If your loved one loses the capacity to care for themselves or their property without establishing a guardianship, you may need to go to court to ask to have an involuntary guardianship approved. With this, you may be assigned to make financial, personal or health care decisions, depending on the type of guardianship that is needed.
How will you know that a guardianship is needed?
While voluntary guardianships take the decision out of your hands, many guardianships are involuntary. You may recognize that your loved one needs more help in their daily lives or with managing their finances before they do. You might notice money going missing, bills not being paid or appointments not being made at the right times. These are all signs that your loved one isn’t able to care for themselves or their finances the way that they used to, and they may need assistance.
If their impairments become severe due to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other injuries or illnesses, you may want to step in and seek a guardianship. Doing this will help make sure they have the support they need to protect their property and to make good decisions for their overall wellbeing.