A legal guardian is a person lawfully invested with the power, and charged with the obligation, of taking care of and managing the property and rights of a person who, because of age, understanding, or self-control, is considered incapable of administering his or her own affairs. If someone is not incapacitated but nonetheless does not have the have the ability to handle his or her affairs your loved one may enter a voluntary guardianship. Guardians are paid by the assets of the ward on an hourly basis. In most counties, fees are approved by a judge. No gifts may be made to the guardian. Even if your loved one wants to bequeath his or her estate to a guardian, this is not legal under Florida Law.
It’s important to understand that there is a difference between Power of Attorney and a Court Appointed Guardian. Most people think of a Power of Attorney (POA) when it comes to handling one’s affairs. This may seem like a useful tool and safe choice. The main deficiency of the POA is that it is not a monitored practice. POAs are not required to be registered, bonded, fingerprinted or monitored. They do not file accountings or have to show their financial standing to the court. This can be a recipe for disaster when someone facing financial difficulty has full authority over the finances of another. On the other hand, guardianship is a court monitored practice. Florida statutes state that a professional guardian must be represented by an attorney.
It is important for you and your loved ones to explore options and plan for the possibility of incapacitation while you are still capable of making decisions and stating your wishes regarding who will manage their affairs and how this will be carried out. This is done by consulting an elder care attorney to address legal, financial, and care options. If an individual is unable to handle their affairs and there is not a POA, Guardianship is the only option available. The older adult becomes a ward of the state.
At times, guardianship can be an adversarial proceeding if disputes between family members arise. Older adults will need to attend court hearings and will be represented by an attorney. These costs are deducted from the ward’s assets as dictated by the judge. This process can be emotionally and financially draining for the ward. A guardian is a last choice for a professional or family member to coordinate care and assume total responsibility for an individual’s life when they are unable to make decisions as decided by a judge.
A guardian arranges all services an incapacitated person requires. All finances are managed by the guardian and all funds must be accounted for through strict legal requirements. A guardian is responsible for advocating for a senior or younger incapacitated individual to insure their rights are maintained and/or restored including those guaranteed to seniors residing in skilled nursing facilities or assisted living facility.
Orlando's Senior Help Desk is a free service of the Jewish Pavilion. We are financially supported by our generous sponsors and participating communities. Information provided is not to be considered medical or financial advice and users should consult with a licensed professional before making any final decisions. Orlando's Senior Help Desk and the Jewish Pavilion complies with the Can-Spam Act of 2003.
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