Adult guardianship can be a reliable way to protect people who cannot make medical and financial decisions for themselves. In most cases, guardianship is utilized by children to protect elderly parents suffering from dementia or other disability.
In this article, you will discover how to become the legal guardian of your parent(s) in Florida.
Legal Guardianship in Florida – Understanding the Concept
In layman’s terms, a legal guardian is someone who has been appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of another person. According to the state guardianship law, adult children can become legal guardians of their parents if the required criteria are met.
The person under the responsibility of the guardian (in this context, an elderly parent) is called a “ward”.
Guardians have a fiduciary duty to their wards, which means they must act only in the ward’s best interest by making decisions on their behalf in good faith.
Guardianship vs Power of Attorney in Florida
In Florida, a power of attorney would grant you (the agent) the authority to act on behalf of your parent (the principal). In case your parent cannot sign a power of attorney, you can proceed to the court and petition them to appoint you as the legal guardian of your parent.
Becoming the Legal Guardian of a Parent in Florida – The Requirements
An individual seeking to be appointed as guardian of a parent in Florida must meet several requirements established by state law.
In Florida, a guardian must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Submit to a full credit background check
- Submit to a full criminal background check
- Attend an education course with a duration of 8 hours on guardianships
Plus, a guardian must be a Florida resident. In case an individual seeking to be a guardian does not live in Florida, the statute provides a set of requirements to be met to petition in the state court for guardianship.
Legal Guardianship in Florida – Types of Adult Guardianship
There are two main types of adult guardianship in Florida – full and limited.
In a full guardianship, the guardian is granted powers to make all types of decisions on behalf of the ward, including personal, medical, and financial decisions.
In a limited guardianship, the guardian has a limited range of decisions that can be made on behalf of the ward.
Plus, guardianships vary in terms of:
- Time (temporary or permanent guardianship)
- Number of guardians (sole guardianship or shared guardianship)
- The subject of guardianship (for the ward’s personal care or for the ward’s property)
Typically, guardianship over a parent will last until the court decides that it is no longer necessary (commonly with the usage of a Suggestion of Capacity), or until the parent dies.
Legal Guardianship in Florida – As Provided by Law
The state legislation that governs guardianships in Florida is provided in Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes (Title XLIII: Domestic Relations).
The individual seeking to be appointed as the guardian of a parent begins by filing a “Petition to Determine Incapacity.” In the petition, you will establish that your parent requires a guardian due to incapacity.
Once the petition is received in the court, they will appoint an examining committee with three members. Typically, an examining committee will have a doctor, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist to examine the ward and check if it is necessary to appoint a legal guardian.
After meeting with the ward and examining him/her, the committee will evaluate if guardianship is truly required and to what extent it may be required.
After concluding the report, the committee will deliver it to the court. Then, the responsible judge will enter an order to rule the ward (in this case, your parent) incapacitated, also determining the extent of incapacity.
After the judge’s order is entered, the prospective guardian (you) must file a petition for the Appointment of Guardian. After assessing the petition, the court will decide to either approve you as the guardian or appoint another person if you are not accepted.
Once you are appointed by the court as your parent guardian, you will need to take the court order to the SSI (Social Security Administration). In the SSI you will request to be named as your parent’s representative payee.
After completing this step, you must notify all of your parent’s banks, healthcare, and legal service providers that you were appointed as your parent guardian.
We Can Help You to Become the Legal Guardian of Your Parent(s) in Florida
At Jurado & Farshchian, P.L., we have expert attorneys that will provide all the necessary guidance throughout the process of obtaining guardianship of your parent(s).