What Are Guardians/Conservators Prohibited from Doing? 🤷🏻♂️
Guardians and conservators have long been part of the American legal system, although not much interest in these roles has been found in the mainstream until as of late. The Britany Spears case put conservatorship issues front and center in the media as the pop star fought to free herself from a years-long conservatorship.
Her struggle sheds some light on one of the main controversies surrounding guardianships and conservatorships: the limits of a guardian’s or conservator’s power. What are guardians/conservators prohibited from doing, and what can they get away with? The law lays out the limits of their power and authority.
What Can Guardians and Conservators Do?
Guardians and conservators are appointed to protect someone else’s interests in some way. However, there are significant differences between the two roles. Let’s start with guardians.
Guardians in Florida are tasked to make important decisions for individuals who cannot legally make them themselves. In other states, such as California, the term guardian is only applied when the person to be cared for is a minor. However, in Florida, it covers both minors and adults.
In general, the scope of most guardianships covers decision-making as it relates to the person directly or their property. Instances of guardianship decision-making in the realm of property action include:
- Managing, buying, or selling real property
- Managing tangible assets, such as vehicles, jewelry, and other personal property
- Managing financial accounts, such as checking and brokerage accounts
- Managing insurance affairs
Regarding personal affairs, a guardian might make decisions relating to:
- Healthcare and medical treatment
- Food and sustenance
- Living arrangements
- Educational decisions for minors
- Personal hygiene
Various types of guardianships exist, including:
- Minor, for those under 18 who have assets
- Pre-need, for those who foresee the need for a guardian in the future
- Plenary, for adults
A limited guardianship is also available for adults who can handle some but not all of their personal affairs.
In Florida, a conservator is someone who manages the property affairs of a person who is considered an absentee. A person can be given an absentee designation when they have been reported missing for over a year while serving in the military, Red Cross, or Merchant Marines during hostile times. They may also be designated an absentee if they go missing due to:
- Mental illness
They have the same authority over the absentee person’s property as would a guardian over their ward’s property.
What Are Guardians/Conservators Prohibited from Doing?
Both guardians and conservators have far-reaching authority to make decisions. With limited guardianship, this authority can be contained in a few areas of decision-making. So in cases with limited guardianships, the scope of the guardian’s authority can be easily determined.
Regarding other types of guardianships, they are much broader and authorize the guardian to make most, if not all, of their ward’s important life decisions. However, in every case, the guardian is prohibited from acting in a way that is not in the best interests of their ward.
Evidence of this failure may include:
- Delinquent bill notices
- Unexplained changes in financial documents
- Property mismanagement
- Unexplained injuries
- Poor hygiene
If you suspect that a guardian or conservator is not fulfilling their duty, contact The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm today for help.