The terms guardianship describes a legal relationship between the guardian and the ward. A guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court to act on behalf of the ward. The term ward describes a person whom the court has declared legally incapacitated and has had some or all of his or her rights removed.
A guardianship should be a last resort and established only in cases where lesser restricted means of intervention are not possible.
Types of Guardianship:
- Guardian of the Person - The guardian of the person has the authority to exercise only the personal rights that have been removed from the ward by the court and delegated to the guardian. These rights may include the right to contract, to apply for government benefits, to sue and defend lawsuits, to manage property or to gift or dispose of property, to determine the ward's residence, to consent to medical or mental health treatment, and to make decisions concerning the ward's social environment.
- Guardian of the Property - The guardian of the property has the authority to exercise only the rights that have been removed from the ward by the court and delegated to the guardian. However, the guardian of the property does not have the authority to sell, transfer, mortgage or donate any of the ward's property without prior approval from the court.
- Guardian of the Person and Property - The guardian of the person and property has been given the responsibility by the court to make decisions regarding both the person and property rights of the ward.
- Guardian of the Minor - Florida Statutes require a guardian of the property to be appointed in cases where a minor receives a gross settlement in excess of $15,000 as a result of a personal injury, property damage or wrongful death. The court, without adjudication of incapacity, may appoint a parent, sibling, next of kin or another person interested in the minor's welfare as the guardian. The guardianship will terminate upon the minor reaching the age of majority even if the guardian believes the ward lacks the maturity to properly handle the assets for which the ward is entitled. Guardianship of a minor should not be confused with custody of the minor.
- Voluntary Guardianship - A voluntary guardianship allows an individual with legal capacity to enter into a guardianship on a voluntary basis and have a guardian appointed by the court to control his or her assets.
- Emergency Guardianship - The court may appoint an emergency temporary guardian when the court finds that there appears to be imminent danger that the physical or mental health or safety of the person will be seriously impaired or that the person's property is in danger of being wasted, misappropriated, or lost unless immediate action is taken.