What Is a Pre-Need Guardian and Do You Need One?

Have you ever thought about what happens if suddenly, you become incapacitated? Incapable of managing your own health or financial affairs? Though we are often reluctant to think about these kinds of situations, mentally impairing events such as injuries or illnesses often come without warning or as a product of age.  

Individuals who are unable to make these important decisions must rely on a guardian to act in their best interest. How so? Through a Designation of a Pre-Need Guardian. 

What is a Designation of a Pre-Need Guardian?

A Designation of a Pre-Need Guardian is a legal document, often created alongside other advance directives, that allows you to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf in the event of your inability to make your own decisions due to a mental impairment.  

How to Designate a Pre-Need Guardian

A Designation of a Pre-Need Guardian Form should be included in your Florida Estate Plan and can be drafted along with other documents such as your Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate Form, and Durable Power of Attorney. A declaration for a Pre-Need Guardian, for an adult or for a minor child, may only be made by an adult who is mentally competent at the time of signing the document. The document must clearly identify who is the declarant and who is the proposed guardian. The document may also identify alternatives to the proposed guardian if your first choice is not able to serve as your guardian. 

If the designation is for the appointment of a minor child’s pre-need guardian, the child must also be identified as well as the proposed guardian’s relationship to the child. The document must be signed by the declarant in the presence of two witnesses. After you sign the document, it must be filed with the Clerk of Courts so that it is readily available in the case that you become incapacitated. 

Why Designate a Pre-Need Guardian?

The obvious benefits of designating a Pre-Need Guardian for you, or your minor child, is being able to have a say on who will be making important decisions on your behalf in the case that you become incapacitated. It allows you to express your preferences on who you trust to handle important decisions regarding your health and financial matters, as well as the care of your child.

Having this document pre-prepared expedites the process of guardianship  in the event that something does occur. It allows your desired guardian to have preference over any other person who attempts to petition for guardianship. 

How do I Choose a Pre-Need Guardian?

The person you designate to be your Pre-need Guardian should be someone you can trust, whether for yourself or for your child. If you are designating someone to be your minor’s Pre-Need Guardian, it is best to choose someone who could provide your child financial and emotional support and stability. 

The Pre-Need Designation may be rebutted in circumstances where another person objects to the appointment of the designated guardian with evidence of improper motive or dishonesty. A Florida Court will make the final decision. Generally, the court will confirm the appointing of the desired pre-need guardian if the appointment is not contested and the proposed guardian is of a generally good character. 

The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm has a team of experienced Probate, Family, and Estate Planning attorneys. As attorneys who specialize in Probate and Guardianship, we understand thinking about unexpected tragedy is unpleasant. But designating a pre-need guardian for yourself or your minor children is a monumental decision that can avoid delays, confusion, and complicated legal processes. If you are currently in need of creating an Estate Plan that will protect you and your family’s best interests, contact us to set up an appointment to evaluate your options.