What is a Minor Guardianship?

A guardian is someone who is appointed to make legal decisions for someone else, who is unable to make those decisions on their own. Guardianship may be sought for incapacitated adults or for minors. A minor guardianship creates a legal relationship between the guardian and the minor, where the guardian becomes responsible for making decisions regarding the minor’s person, property, or sometimes both.

In most scenarios, parents are responsible for making decisions for their children. Parents normally have the authority to decide where their children live, their children’s medical care, and the kind of education their children receive.  However, there are instances where parents are unable to make legal decisions for their child without court authority and the appointment of a guardian is required.

Florida law requires a guardian over a minor’s property to be appointed to minors who receive an inheritance or settlement over $15,000.00 in value. For example, if a minor is involved in a personal injury claim and the settlement exceeds $15,000.00, the minor’s parents will be unable to collect and hold the settlement for the minor. Instead, the minor’s parents or an interested party will be required to initiate guardianship proceedings. The minor’s parents or an interested party are required to go to guardianship court and become appointed as the child’s guardian in order to manage the settlement funds through the guardianship. If the minor receives an inheritance or settlement below the $15,000.00 threshold, then the minor’s parents may receive, hold and manage the proceeds.

How is a minor guardianship closed?

 Another common question we get as guardianship attorneys is how do minor guardianships come to an end.  There are three ways a minor guardianship is closed. First, an event that triggers the termination of a minor guardianship is the minor has reached the legal age of adulthood, which is eighteen years old in the majority of states. Second, the guardianship terminates when the minor has exhausted the financial assets the guardian was appointed to manage. And last, if the minor child passes away during the guardianship, the guardianship will need to be terminated.

Make sure your guardianship process goes smoothly

Obtaining a guardianship over a minor’s property begins with filing a petition for appointment of a guardian with the guardianship court where the minor resides. The proposed guardian is subject to background checks, and once the guardianship is established, it will be subject to court oversight. If you are the minor’s parent and you want guardianship over your child’s property, you are required to file an application for appointment as the guardian. When determining whether the proposed guardian should be appointed, the court considers what would be in the best interest of the child. Therefore, when parents are seeking guardianship over their child’s inheritance or settlement, a court could deny the request if the court believes the child’s parent will misuse the child’s assets.

When considering initiating minor guardianship proceedings, it is imperative you meet with an experienced family or guardianship attorney in your state. Each state has its own unique set of requirements and laws associated with becoming a minor’s guardian.

The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm has a team of experienced Probate, Family and Estate Planning attorneys located in Coral Gables, Florida. We serve the entire state of Florida so if you are seeking guardianship over a minor child, contact us to set up an appointment to evaluate your options. Call our office for more information.