What could be closer to our hearts than taking care of our children or family members who need us? Over the past several months, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought home (pun intended) to everyone the importance of family. So it’s appropriate that we take a minute in today’s post to talk a little about estate planning and guardianship laws.
What is Guardianship?
A guardian is someone the court appoints to make decisions for a person (either a minor or an adult) who is unable to make decisions for himself/herself. The guardian can make either financial or personal (or both) decisions for the person (referred to as a “ward”).
In Florida, if the parents of a child die or become incapacitated, or if a child receives an inheritance, or money from an insurance policy or lawsuit that exceeds the statutory limit, a guardian must be appointed.
A guardian’s decision-making powers under Florida law can be plenary (i.e., full) or limited.
Guardians appointed with full powers generally have the right to make all delegable legal decisions for the ward, including decisions involving his or her money and property.
Guardians with limited powers, however, are allowed only to make those decisions specified by court order after the court has found that the ward is able to make some, but not all, decisions for himself/herself.
What is a Preneed Guardianship?
Referred to as a “preneed” guardianship in Florida, the law also allows adults who are competent to designate someone to be appointed as their guardian should they become incapacitated.
A power of attorney (“POA”) is another way of achieving this same result.
However, there is a major difference between a POA and a court-appointed preened guardian. Guardianships (preneed and others) are court-supervised relationships. As a result, the guardian must regularly submit reports to the court regarding his or her ward and his/her guardianship.
Estate Planning and Guardianships
In estate planning, one of the most important decisions you will need to make if you have minor children is who you want to appoint as their guardian.
You generally appoint a guardian for your children as part of your comprehensive estate plan in your Will.
When you have appointed someone in your Will to watch over your minor children in the event of your death, unless for some reason that person isn’t qualified to serve as a guardian, the Florida courts will almost always honor your stated preference.
Because this is a very complicated area of law, yet it is such an important one, please take the time to discuss your estate planning needs with your estates and probate lawyer.
Protecting Your Family is Just a Phone Call Away.
Don’t leave planning for your future and that of your loved ones to chance. All it takes is one phone call to the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald to ensure that your wishes will be followed and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. When you work with the estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. Call us at 954-580-3690 or email us at: [email protected] today.