If a minor or incapacitated adult cannot make decisions on their own, a Florida court might choose to appoint a guardian. A guardian pertains to any court-assigned individual who makes legal decisions on behalf of another person—the ward. More often than not, the courts appoint close friends or family members as appropriate guardians.
In cases that involve two or more persons, individuals with shared guardianship are referred to as co-guardians. While co-guardians play a crucial role in the decision-making process, this partnership poses significant challenges that may require a planning attorney’s help.
The Fundamentals of Florida Guardianship
You can file for Florida guardianship under the following circumstances:
- You are caring for a minor child.
- You are caring for an adult with developmental or intellectual disabilities.
- You are caring for an incapacitated adult.
In each of these cases, the ward is unable to make decisions without the guidance of a competent adult.
Of the three situations, incapacitated adults are the least urgent. These petitions typically occur after an accident or the sudden onset of a disease such as dementia. In each case, the adult becomes unable to comprehend their surroundings.
The Two Types of Florida Guardianship
The two types of Florida guardianships differ in the amount of responsibility a guardian has.
- Guardianship of a person: This type of guardianship allows the appointed person to make crucial decisions regarding the ward’s personal and legal interests.
- Guardianship of property: This type of guardianship allows the appointed person to make crucial decisions regarding the ward’s property. The guardian must identify the ward’s assets and present to the court annual accounting reports.
Not every case will require guardians for both a person and their property. Instead, a judge determines what type of guardian is most appropriate, if any. Similarly, a court might provide powers to one guardian or choose to appoint two. However, two different people assigned to a person and their property aren’t considered co-guardians.
What Entails Co-Guardianship?
When a court appoints a guardian, wards can no longer make decisions on their own. Instead, guardians can make decisions on their behalf. When appointing more than one guardian, both individuals’ fiduciary duties must remain intact, as if acting as a sole guardian.
Thus, the co-guardians’ preferences must not interfere with the ward’s best interests. In the event of an oversight or mistake, one co-guardian cannot place blame on another. Before making a decision or pursuing a course of action, co-guardians must communicate efficiently, working together to benefit the ward.
Should two guardians working to fill the same role come to regular disagreements, they can become litigated.
Family law cases often involve life-changing decisions, such as appointing an appropriate guardian for a child or incapacitated adult. Because the individual will undergo significant changes in relationships, finances, and the ability to make decisions for themselves, co-guardians must always act in their best interest.
Family law matters are always personal and significant. It is important to contact an attorney with experience in dealing with family law matters. Contact Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and compassionate attorney to discuss your legal needs.