Can You Serve as a Guardian in Florida?
At Millhorn Law Firm, our lawyers meet regularly with men and women who want to serve as a guardian for a spouse or elderly relative. Guardianship allows someone to take over the daily affairs of someone who is incapacitated. For example, a loved one could have Alzheimer’s and no longer be capable of paying their bills or even depositing a Social Security check.
Florida strictly regulates who can serve as a guardian. Please reach out to one of our guardianship attorneys in the Villages for more information.
Qualifying to Serve as a Guardian
Florida Statute § 744.309 lays out who may serve as guardian of a ward who resides in Florida. In short, any state resident who is at least 18 years old can serve as a guardian. If multiple people want to serve, then a judge will pick one.
Non-residents can also serve as guardians, but they must be closely related to the ward. This can include a:
- Parent, including an adoptive parent
- Child, including an adopted child
Ideally, a person should live close by, since so many issues that arise need to be dealt with swiftly. It can be difficult for someone living out of state, or even on the other side of Florida, to fulfill the role adequately.
Disqualifications from Serving as a Guardian
Some people cannot serve. For example, someone who suffers from an illness or incapacity that renders them incapable of doing the job cannot serve as a guardian. This issue sometimes arises when a spouse wants to serve as a guardian, even though they are at an advanced age.
Also, no one with a felony conviction or a conviction for abusing, neglecting, or abandoning a child can serve. Please meet with an elder law attorney to review your criminal history to see if it will disqualify you.
As seen above, a resident can serve even if not related. However, the law disqualifies people to prevent conflicts of interest. For example, the law limits the ability of someone who “provides substantial services” to the ward from serving. This qualification protects wards from being taken advantage of. Someone who works for a business that provides services also cannot serve unless they are a close relative of the ward.
Banks & Trust Companies as Guardians
Interestingly, although the law prohibits many businesses from serving as guardians when they provide services to a ward, banks or trust companies are not prohibited. They can serve as guardians of the ward’s property only.
Often, this is a good choice if your loved one has significant assets and you do not feel confident investing or managing them. Let a professional handle the assets for you. Some of our clients have a bank act as guardian of the ward’s property while our client serves as guardian of the person.
We Can Assist with Guardianship
Our lawyers at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group have the experience to request a guardianship in the correct court. Once appointed, you might have many legal questions, and we can help with those, as well. For more information, please call our firm today at 800-743-9732 to schedule a time to meet.