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What Is Guardianship and Can I Avoid it?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Florida guardianship lawyerGuardianship is a legal means by which an adult can be placed under the care of another person. When a person is under guardianship, they can no longer make important decisions for themself, including choices about where to live, how to spend money, or what kind of medical care they should receive. In Florida, guardianship is most commonly used to protect an elderly person who has become incapacitated and cannot manage their own care, finances, or day-to-day life anymore.

Guardianships can also be used to keep a disabled child who has turned 18 years old in the care of a family member, or to allow a responsible person to take over making decisions for someone who is severely mentally ill or addicted to drugs. Many senior citizens would never want to be subjected to a guardianship, and fortunately, there are ways to prevent this

Explaining Florida Guardianships 

Guardianship proceedings are public. The evidence used to prove the need for a guardianship, which often includes very personal medical and mental health information, is submitted in open court. Records the court keeps in its efforts to oversee the guardianship can also become public.

A person who is the subject of a guardianship (“ward”) might have very little freedom and very little say in any aspect of their life. The guardian can be tasked with managing everything from the ward’s health care information to choosing where they should live - usually a group home or skilled nursing facility. 

The ward also has little, if any, say in who their guardian should be. Any competent and appropriate adult can file for guardianship over an incapacitated person. This is sometimes done with less-than-noble intentions. While court oversight of a fiduciary is meant to prevent this, there is no telling whether the guardian who has been forced on a vulnerable person will truly act in the ward’s interest rather than their own. 

Avoiding a Guardianship in Later Adulthood

The best way to avoid a guardianship, even if you do become genuinely incapacitated, is to use a power of attorney. With a power of attorney, you can choose someone you trust to start making decisions for you should the need one day arise. You can be specific in your power of attorney about what your agent may or may not do on your behalf, or even choose multiple people to handle different areas of your life. 

This way, you will be cared for by someone you trust to act in your best interest, rather than the first person to get to the courthouse after you become incapacitated. 

Contact a Broward County Estate Planning Attorney

Law Office of Miller & Miller, P.A. can help you take steps to protect yourself against a future unwanted guardianship. Our dedicated Fort Lauderdale Estate Planning Lawyers can help you plan for your future in a way that leaves you in control. Call 954-981-9301 for a free consultation. 



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