Florida statutes provide a list of persons who are given priority to be your guardian, such as family members. However, the only person who can select a guardian for you is a circuit court judge. There are two types of guardians in Florida: the guardian of the property and the guardian of the person. The guardian of the property manages the assets of the incapacitated person much like an attorney-in-fact does under a durable power of attorney, except that audited accountings to the court must be made annually. The guardian of the person makes the health care and living arrangement decisions for the incapacitated individual, much like a health care surrogate. If a guardianship is filed, any durable power of attorney is suspended and a health care surrogate may be restricted.
We can counsel you and your loved ones on all aspects of guardianship administration for both minors and incompetent adults. These include representation at competency hearings, qualification of a guardian before the probate court, preparation of an inventory and accountings for the guardianship estate, as well as advising guardians about distributions on behalf of the ward.
If you become incapacitated, any “interested person” may file a petition to determine if you are incapacitated and a petition for appointment as your guardian. The court will appoint a three-member committee of health care professionals to examine you and an attorney to represent you. If the committee finds that you are partially or totally incapacitated, a guardian is appointed. Your rights are then taken away from you and placed in the care of that guardian. If you do not have a pre-need guardian declaration, the court is free to select whomever it desires within certain boundaries.