A guardian is a person with the legal right to make certain choices on behalf of another individual (also known as a ward). The intended ward might be an adult with a mental disability or declining health that limits their capability to make decisions for themselves. This is often the case for older adults who begin experiencing some of the symptoms of dementia.

If you are concerned that a loved one is losing the capacity to handle their affairs, contact a skilled guardianship attorney to discuss your options. They can guide you through the process of establishing limited guardianships in Coral Gables.

Understanding Limited Guardianship

The law requires Florida courts to preserve the autonomy of adults as much as possible. Accordingly, they will grant the least restrictive form of guardianship to protect the ward, a limited guardianship, which delegates the power to make some, but not all, decisions to a guardian.

Florida Statute § 744.102 defines two types of limited guardians: guardians of the person and guardians of the property. It is important to understand the unique responsibilities of each type.

Guardianship of the Person

Someone with limited guardianship of a ward’s person has the legal authority to make decisions about their healthcare and physical well-being.  For example, a limited guardian could decide to place the ward in a nursing facility. Additionally, they are responsible for ensuring that the ward’s social needs are met and that the ward is not unwillingly isolated or denied contact with loved ones.

Guardianship of the Property

A limited guardian of the property handles the ward’s money and makes financial decisions on their behalf. The guardian takes control of the ward’s bank accounts, pays their bills, makes investment decisions, and handles every aspect of the ward’s financial life.

Appointing a guardian for an adult will naturally remove some rights from the intended ward. When establishing a limited guardianship in Coral Gables, courts will specify which responsibilities it removes from the ward and gives to the guardian. The limited guardian may only exercise those rights that Florida courts have explicitly granted, and must consider the ward’s wishes, opinions, and preferences.

Who Can Be a Limited Guardian?

Any adult over age 18 can apply to be a guardian if they are not a convicted felon. Limited guardianship in Coral Gables will look different based on each circumstance. For example, guardians can be relatives of the intended ward or completely unrelated to them. Florida courts could also appoint a nonprofit institution to serve in this position in some cases. Even a bank trust department could be a guardian of the property but not a guardian of the person.

In Coral Gables, a proposed ward could ask the court to establish a limited guardianship. These proceedings are called voluntary guardianships. If a ward chooses a guardian before becoming incapacitated, the courts will honor the choice unless the individual is unfit. A court could also deny a ward their choice of guardian if there is a conflict of interest or if they find evidence that the selected person will not act in the ward’s best interest.

Guardians must undergo a background and credit check, and sometimes a guardian of the property must post a surety bond. Florida courts might waive the bond requirement if the intended ward does not have significant assets.

Explore Limited Guardianship with a Coral Gables Attorney Today

Sadly, situations occur in life that can render adults unable to care for themselves as they once did. If this happens, establishing guardianship can be the best way to preserve their assets and ensure they get the care they require.

If you want to know more about limited guardianships in Coral Gables, contact The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm today. Initial consultations are free, and our knowledgeable team can evaluate your situation to help you better understand your options.