The importance of estate planning is often under-emphasized, as individuals should have the ultimate say in how their care needs evolve in the case of emergency, aging or other circumstances that may leave them without a voice, along with the ability to plan final matters related to their estate and funeral preparations. A legal professional is a valuable asset, as determinations are made on how to manage a person’s life, along with estate planning activities in the best interests of a whole family.
There are instances that align with the advancement of age, or other cognitive disruptions due to underlying temporary, or long term illnesses, where the court may need to appoint someone to make decisions on behalf of another individual, who has not already designated someone to make decisions for them in completed estate planning documents. This person will be called a guardian, and they will be a surrogate decision-maker appointed by the court to make either personal and/or financial decisions on behalf of another person who will be known as their “ward.”
Guardianship has a wider span of responsibility than a power of attorney, as a guardian can take personal decisions apart from deciding financial matters for the ward. Guardianship is granted only through courts and is necessary when a person is found to be incapacitated by a court evaluator. A guardianship is only necessary when no other advance directive documentation has been prepared.
Voluntary versus involuntary.
Florida law allows both voluntary and involuntary guardianships. A voluntary guardianship may be established for an adult who, though mentally competent, is incapable of managing his or her own estate and voluntarily petitions for the appointment.
Limited versus absolute.
Florida law provides for limited and absolute adult guardianship. A limited guardianship is one where the court notes the ward to be lacking in some capacity, but they can still handle some of the necessary tasks related their own person and property, apart from any other pre-planned, written instructions for all aspects of their life. A plenary (absolute) guardian is a court appointed individual who is legally authorized to act on behalf of an incapacitated adult ward who cannot take care of themself. In accordance with Florida Statutes Chapter 744, the guardianship will be subject to court oversight to make certain the appointed guardian is acting in an ethical manner regarding the care of the ward.
Florida estate planning includes actions to be taken after a person’s death for closing out assets and liabilities and outlines actions to be taken, in the event a person cannot speak for themselves. Discuss the value of a guardianship with an experienced attorney at Baby Boomers’ Barrister Law Firm in St. Petersburg.
100 2nd Avenue S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 565-4250