Help Protect Your Loved One With A Guardianship
Every situation involving a guardianship is highly unique. It is important for a lawyer to focus on providing you with individualized attention and legal services that are tailored to meet your needs. At our Florida law firm, you will find the level of quality legal services that you are seeking.
Korshak & Associates, P.A., is a trusted resource for competent legal representation. We represent clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, wills and probate administration.
The Role Of The Guardian
Under Florida law, a guardian can be appointed to act in a legal capacity on behalf of an incapacitated person – often referred to as a “ward.” The incapacitated person may be elderly and physically unable to exercise their own rights or there can be issues related to memory loss, dementia or various disabilities that can create the need for a guardian.
The guardian has a variety of responsibilities that need to be fulfilled, and these tasks can become quite complex for people who are not familiar with them.
So, What Does A Guardian Do?
In Florida, there are two common types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the property.
- Guardianship of the person involves exercising the ward’s rights on their behalf. The guardian makes major life decisions for the ward and coordinates their medical care, among other critical matters. In addition, the guardian files annual reports with the court outlining the ward’s health and general well-being.
- Guardianship of the property involves the handling of the ward’s day-to-day affairs, including the management of bank accounts and retirement accounts, the paying of bills, real estate management and transactions, and other matters. It is also the responsibility of the guardian to gather and inventory all of the ward’s assets as well as submit annual accountings to the court detailing the ward’s assets, income and expenditures.
Having a knowledgeable Orlando attorney there to help you through the process will help to ensure that the ward’s interests are protected and that your duties are properly fulfilled.
Your Responsibilities As A Guardian Of The Person
If you wish to seek guardianship of the person for a family member or loved one, there is a range of legal details that you must address. Your position as a guardian will be very important to the welfare of another individual, so we must prove to the court that you are capable, have never been convicted of certain crimes and have the best interests of the ward in mind.
As a guardian of the person, you will be responsible for a number of medical and personal welfare decisions on behalf of the ward, including:
- Selecting the ward’s residence
- Making provisions for food and clothing
- Making decisions on medical treatment
- Making educational decisions
- Determining whether to allow life support
In addition to helping you secure rights as a legal guardian, our lawyers can also provide ongoing advisement to help ensure that you maintain legal compliance throughout the duration of your guardianship.
Who Will Care For Your Children If You Cannot?
When a parent is not able or available to care for a minor child, a guardianship may be established. A guardian can be appointed to act on behalf of a child. Alternatively, an extended family member may also seek temporary custody.
At Korshak & Associates, P.A., we understand that every situation is unique. We will help you make difficult decisions and ultimately help protect the minor for whom you are seeking to establish a guardianship.
Guardianship Of Property
Lack of legal capacity for a person to make decisions about their property can occur in several different settings. For minor children, their age is itself enough to make them lack capacity. For adults, physical or mental impairments can arise at any time. When those impairments become severe enough, it is time to consider guardianship as a way of protecting their property.
Can A Guardianship Ever Be Voluntary?
For some people, cognitive decline is also associated with some forms of mental disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is the most notorious of these, but there are many forms of dementia that can impact someone later in life. This impact, in turn, can affect the ability to make decisions about medical care or property management.
When the ability to make financial decisions has been compromised, a guardianship for a person’s property may be in order. A voluntary guardianship is more flexible than an involuntary guardianship. It may be ended by the older person without court involvement. In other cases, however, an involuntary guardianship proceeding may be necessary.
When To Obtain Guardianship In Florida
The ability to make their own decisions about health care and finances is something most adults take for granted. Respecting a person’s right to make those decisions, as long as they have the capacity to do so, is an important aspect of human dignity.
But what if someone is too young to make their own decisions or loses the legal capacity to make them due to mental or physical conditions? The answer is that Florida law allows for the creation of guardianships in those cases.
Guardianship And Competency Hearings
Granting someone the legal authority to care for the person or property of another when that person is opposed to it is a very serious step. That is why competency hearings concerning guardianship have to be handled with great care.
The decision about when to seek to put a guardianship in place varies considerably from case to case. It is a quite different situation, however, when concern about incapacity leads to a legal petition seeking an involuntary guardianship. This typically occurs when someone seems to lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about medical care or property management.
The hearings to make these determinations are very sensitive and come with many procedural safeguards. For starters, formal notice must be given. There must also be an attorney for the person alleged to be incapacitated as well as for the party seeking a guardianship.
Frequently Asked Questions About Guardianships
A guardianship is a powerful legal tool that allows one individual to make legal and life decisions on behalf of another. Many people have questions about guardianships regarding how they work, who can benefit from one, how to set one up, etc.
We invite you to read the information below for answers to some of these common questions:
I’ve been named a guardian in Florida. Now what?
When a loved one is no longer able to make crucial decisions for themselves, they may need a legal guardian to handle the decisions on their behalf. However, becoming a guardian in Florida is something that comes with many responsibilities. Decisions that would normally be made by another person must be handled by the guardian, who applies their best judgment to the situation.
What are the responsibilities of a guardian?
It always depends on individual circumstances, but guardians are typically responsible for making decisions on behalf of someone else (the ward) regarding matters such as:
- Health care treatment
- Monthly bills and other household expenses
- Educational decisions
They can also determine if the ward is being unduly influenced by someone with questionable intentions in order to enrich themselves financially.
Who can benefit from a guardianship?
A guardianship can be established to protect the interests of an incapacitated adult. When a physical or mental impairment makes it difficult or impossible for an adult to make important decisions independently, a guardianship may be a viable option.
A guardianship can also be established to protect the interests of a minor child. When parents are unable to provide care for a child, a guardian can be appointed.
Who can act as a guardian?
In general, any adult who is a resident in Florida can act as a guardian. However, if an individual has previously been convicted of a felony, they are ineligible. An applicant must undergo a thorough background screening.
Other institutions (such as a nonprofit religious institution) can act as guardians. A bank trust department can act as a guardian of the property.
The person for whom a guardianship is being established can express their wishes in writing to the court.
Do I Need A Guardianship Or Power Of Attorney?
Both guardianships and powers of attorney can protect the interests of individuals who are incapacitated. However, they are not the same. There are unique benefits to each one.
- Powers of attorney: A power of attorney can be designated to handle the financial, legal and medical affairs of an individual who has become incapacitated. A power of attorney may perform tasks such as paying bills, making medical decisions and accessing bank accounts. An individual can decide in advance if they want to designate a power of attorney in the event of incapacitation. A power of attorney continues until it is canceled or until death occurs. A power of attorney must be created before a person becomes incapacitated or can otherwise no longer make decisions on their own behalf. Creating a power of attorney may cost you up to a few hundred dollars, while an emergency guardianship after the fact can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity.
- Guardianships: A guardian is an individual who is court-appointed to manage the affairs of an individual who is incapacitated. A guardian may manage the financial, legal, medical and personal affairs of the incapacitated individual or child. The guardianship continues until the incapacitated individual either becomes able to manage their own affairs or dies.
There are benefits to both powers of attorney and guardianships. If you are wondering which option is best for you, we invite you to contact us.