Guardianships are designed to protect the legal rights of a person deemed to be incapacitated. When functional limitations prevent a person from being able to make decisions on their own, guardianship provides critical legal safeguards to help ensure that individual and their best interests remain protected. Guardianships are not established lightly as the court is essentially stepping in to remove the incapacitated individual’s rights to manage their own affairs and all guardianships are subject to oversight by the court.
Being appointed as a guardian means you are taking on a role of great responsibility. You essentially step into the shoes of your ward in order to make important decisions on their behalf. Let’s take a look at some of the responsibilities assumed by a guardian.
Responsibilities of a Guardian
The responsibilities of a guardian will be outlined by court orders. Generally speaking, however, duties of a guardian can be divided between those duties of a guardian of the property and those duties of a guardian of the person. When someone is appointed as guardian of the property, they have specific duties regarding the management and protection of the ward’s assets. When someone is appointed as guardian of the person, they have specific duties regarding the medical care and living situation of the ward.
The duties of a guardian of the property begin with the guardian locating and marshalling the ward’s assets. The guardian has a fiduciary duty to protect the ward’s assets and this means doing things like making sure property and vehicle insurance is paid, property taxes are paid, and expenses related to the ward’s assets are paid in a timely manner. The guardian must submit an initial guardianship report, including a verified asset inventory. At the end of the guardianship, all of the ward’s property must be delivered to them or whoever is deemed to be lawfully entitled to the property. During the guardianship, many of the actions taken by the guardian will be subject to court approval. Some that will not need to be approved by the court include:
- Receiving and retaining assets
- Paying expenses related to the ward’s assets
- Paying encumbrances related to the ward’s assets
- Powers specifically listed in Florida Statutes
Then, there are the duties of a guardian of the person. A guardian of the person is permitted to take reasonable and necessary actions to exercise the rights of the ward that have been delegated to them by the court. The responsibilities of a guardian of the person will vary depending on things such as the degree of the ward’s incapacitation. The court will specify the rights and responsibilities of the guardian which may include:
- Determining the ward’s residence
- Consenting to the medical treatment of the ward
- Applying for government benefits on the ward’s behalf
A guardian of the person is also required to get court approval before taking certain actions. Such actions that would be subject to court approval include:
- Filing for dissolution of marriage on the ward’s behalf
- Consenting to termination of parental rights on the ward’s behalf
- Committing the ward to a medical or treatment facility or institution
Estate Planning Attorney
Guardianship is important, but complex. You can direct all of your guardianship questions to the dedicated team of attorneys at Verras Law. We’re here to help. Contact Verras Law today.