New Florida Rules For Administering A Minor Guardianship
Last year brought several changes, both administratively and functionally, to estate law and administration in Florida. One of the new rules that went into effect in 2020 regards the administration of minor guardianships. A guardian for a minor child must be appointed by the court in order to serve. Usually, a potential guardian will petition for the opportunity and a hearing is scheduled. New rules now help to eliminate a potential financial gain or conflict of interest for the guardian chosen to serve.
Petitioning for Minor Guardianship
A potential guardian of a minor child must petition with the court of jurisdiction. The petitioner must file a guardianship petition in the county where the child resides. A petitioner may also seek emergency temporary guardianship for a child and the court will grant the emergency guardianship if the petitioner establishes the child’s health and safety is in imminent danger. In addition, the court may appoint a guardian of the child as guardian of the person and guardian of the property. This means the guardian would act as a fiduciary over the child’s assets, finances and property while also caring for the child’s health, daily needs, schooling and upbringing. In other cases, the court may appoint two guardians, a guardian of the person and a guardian of the property.
Eliminating Conflicts of Interest
Florida Statute 744.446(a) now states that a potential guardian who has petitioned to serve with the court of jurisdiction may not receive any financial incentive for doing so, including kickbacks, stock options, cash or a split-fee arrangement. This rule also applies to potential guardians of a minor or adult who is mentally or cognitively incapacitated. Why the new change? Courts want to ensure that a person seeking guardianship over a vulnerable minor child is doing so for the right reasons.
While a guardian does not have to be a blood relative, courts do want to see at least some sort of prior relationship (perhaps a family friend) between the guardian and the child and that the potential guardian is not seeking guardianship simply for financial gain or fiduciary control over the child’s assets or inheritance. This subsection was also added into law to prevent a tripartite relationship or conflict of interest between the attorney or personal representative for the child’s deceased parents’ estate, the attorney handling the guardianship proceedings and the potential guardian. There should be no existing bias that would color the results of a child guardianship proceeding.
Contact The Villages Guardianship Attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
If a child in your life is in danger or now orphaned and you want to petition to serve as a guardian, our guardianship attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group can assist you. We practice in estate planning and administration but also handle guardianship petitions for children and the elderly and are familiar with the processes involved. We can guide you through each step and prepare you for what is entailed. Call today to schedule a consultation.