Thanks to Hollywood, the term “guardian” may now conjure up images of superheroes flying through the galaxy, protecting it from villains, but real guardians here on Earth are no less special or important to those whom they watch over.
In the US, a guardianship is a legal designation giving a person authority over another person’s care and property interests. They are required to fulfill the duties that correspond with that authority.
Essentially, the guardian becomes responsible for representing the best interests of their ward, the person that has lost mental capacity, in situations where the ward cannot effectively represent himself or herself.
Guardians are held to very high standards in executing their fiduciary and protective responsibilities on behalf of their ward and are often required to submit periodic reports about their actions and the status of the ward as well as financial accounting for the ward’s money.
There are many different situations that could call for a guardianship, but one of the most common is when a loved one becomes mentally incapacitated. This could occur because of old age, a disease or a mental health illness, as well as some sort of accident. Seniors are the ones most often in need of a guardian due to incapacitation, although young people can also require guardianship protection for this reason as well.
In the case of seniors, the need for guardianship arises when they are no longer able to make prudent decisions about their health and property, and often there is a fear that the elder could be, or already has been taken advantage of. Oftentimes, a guardianship can be avoided when a person executes a durable power of attorney but these must be prepared before the person has lost mental capacity.
Minors can also require guardians for a number of reasons. The more well-known of these situations is when a legal guardian is designated by the parents of the child prior to their death or absence in the child’s life, but there are other financially related situations as well. When a minor receives an inheritance, a guardianship is legally required so that an adult guardian can protect and administer the funds as necessary for the best interests of the child until they reach adulthood.
Guardianships can give long-term, full authority to a guardian to make decisions for an incapacitated person or an individual who is legally unqualified to make their own decisions, but they can also be designated as “Limited,” “Temporary,” or “Emergency” guardianships.
A limited guardianship gives a guardian power over only certain specific needs. A temporary guardianship only lasts until a specific situation is resolved, such as a drug addiction. Emergency guardianships are established quickly for an emergency situation and are only temporary.
In Florida, the potential guardian seeking guardianship over an individual requires an attorney to represent them in court. The court will determine the level of incapacitation or need and make a decision on establishing a guardian. The Vasquez de Lara Law Group will represent your guardianship interests and relentlessly advocate on your behalf. We will also help you with the annual management and required reports of guardianship, so give us a call to discuss your specific situation.