What Is Guardianship?

According to the Florida State Guardianship Association, “A guardianship is the appointment of an individual by the court to exercise all or some control over another individual’s person and/or property. The appointment is usually made when an individual is incapable of exercising control for themselves. The person who is appointed by the court is referred to as the guardian; and the person who is subject to the proceeding is referred to as the ward.” Read more here.

Why Would You Need A Guardianship?

A guardianship significantly affects a person’s individual rights and freedoms. It should be considered only when power of attorney is not sufficient to protect that person from abuse or harm.

In the case of elder care, whenever an individual has not done appropriate advanced care planning and/or executed powers of attorney, and he or she becomes unable to care for him/herself or make decisions for him/herself, then the court must step in and choose another person to be the guardian.

Some parents choose to name a guardian for their child in the event that both parents were to die before that child reaches adulthood. Unless a guardian has been specified in a will, technically anyone could step forward and ask the court for the job and judge would have to decide who gets custody. In the case of a child, guardianship can be flexible over time. You can choose to have one person for a set period of time (say until age 12), after which responsibility passes to a second choice.

Different Kinds of Guardianship

Like power of attorney, guardianship can be either Full or Limited. It can be Temporary, Limited Time, Medical, or even a Co-Guardianship. At the same time, another consideration is Conservatorship, which is legal control of financial matters. Discuss your needs with your attorney to determine the best course of action for your situation.