The misconception that establishing guardians through a court procedure in Florida is only done in cases involving children may have come about because of the terminology used in the statute. The legislation authorizing the appointment of a guardian for an incapacitated individual refers uses the term “wards.”

Wards may be children or adults who are in need of someone to provide physical care for the person or for the individual’s assets and property. A guardian of the person is appointed to make decisions for the day-to-day needs of the ward including medical, housing and other services.

A guardian of property is appointed to act on behalf of a ward with regard to property and other assets. For example, an adult who can no longer manage his or her financial affairs due to physical or mental disease or illness may have a guardian appointed to make those decisions and manage the ward’s affairs. A guardianship proceeding may result in the appointment of a guardian for an incapacitated individual with power over the person and the property.

When a petition is filed asking a court to declare a person to be incapacitated and in need of a guardian, the judge appoints a three-member panel of doctors or other experts to exam the incapacitated individual and report back to the court with a recommendation. If the court agrees that the person is in need of having a guardian appointed, it will determine the extent of the authority required and appoint a guardian with the level of authority needed to care for the individual and the individual’s property.

Guardianship is a complex area of the law. The information contained in this post is not offered as legal advice. A guardianship attorney is the best source of legal advice and guidance about guardianship planning.