In Florida, when a loved one requires a legal guardian to help take care of them and make decisions on their behalf, the courts can appoint someone to take on this role. A court-appointed guardian can be for either a minor whose parents are unable to provide the care they need, or for an adult who has some type of disability where they cannot care for themselves.
Once you’ve been named the legal guardian, you will have new rights and responsibilities that you need to be aware of. If you neglect these responsibilities, you can be in legal trouble, so that is why you should always consult with your attorney.
Decisions Regarding Housing
In most situations, you will be responsible for making decisions regarding where your ward will live. This may typically mean that they will stay in your home so you can provide them with care, especially if they are minor children. Many disabled adults, however, are able to live somewhat independent lives, so they may have an apartment or home of their own. If this is the case, you would be there to help them find a home and ensure you are able to help them along the way.
Making medical decisions is one of the biggest responsibilities of a guardian—these may be day-to-day decisions like which doctor to see, or major medical decisions in the event of an emergency. In addition to traditional medical decisions, you’ll also have to make decisions surrounding things like therapists, dental work, vision care, and more.
Helping with paying the bills is a common responsibility for guardians, especially when the ward is an adult. In most cases, you do not have to use your own money to pay these types of bills. The guardian establishes a court restricted depository account which allows the court to approve expenses of the ward. Instead, you’ll use any money that your ward has to pay their bills (if they are an adult). It is absolutely critical to note, however, that their money must only be used for things related to them. If you dip into their money for personal things, you are violating your responsibilities.
If the person you are caring for has financial assets, possibly left to them by their biological parents, you will need to help manage these investments. This can be as simple as hiring a financial advisor, or you may want to make the investment decisions on your own. Regardless of your approach, you must always make your decisions with the best interests of your ward in mind.
Filing Reports with the Court
One responsibility that many people don’t realize as a guardian is filing annual reports with the courts. These reports should provide a general overview of how your ward is doing, and what you’re doing for them. This helps to ensure they are getting the care they need as the years progress.
We Can Help You with Your Guardianship
If you have a loved one who is unable to care for themselves, and you would like to seek legal guardianship, please contact us right away. We’ll sit down with you, go over the details of your case, and help you to determine what the next steps should be.