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Some basic information on Florida guardianship law

Many Florida residents have a pretty good idea of how they want their assets divided up among their loved ones once they have passed away. They may even have executed a will or trust that explicitly spells out their final wishes. But what if there is a special member of their family that is unable to take care of themselves? Is there any type of legal procedure that can ensure this individual will be cared for after the testator passes away?

When faced with a situation like this, many individuals sit down with an attorney and draw up guardianship papers as part of their estate plan. A guardian is an individual who is named either by a testator or by a court to make legal decisions for another person, known as a ward. The ward may be a young child or someone who, because of mental or emotional disability, is not capable of making their own decisions. A guardian is usually someone who knows the ward, such as a spouse or other relative, but it can also be a private person or state employee chosen by the court.

Guardians are entrusted to always make decisions that are in the best interest of the ward. These typically include decisions regarding medical treatment and care. They may also be entrusted with managing the finances of the ward and making decisions regarding the ward's educational needs. Their responsibility can also include providing all of the necessary basics for the ward including food, clothing, personal items and transportation.

The state of Florida's mandates for guardianship of individuals who are unable to take care of themselves require that a guardianship be as least restrictive as possible, meaning that the ward should be able to live as independently as they can. To that end, the state will encourage the ward to develop their abilities so they can function as normally as possible.

A guardian can be removed from the care of a ward if a court determines that the ward doesn't need the guardian anymore. The guardian can also be removed if the court believes that the guardian is not acting in the best interests of the ward.

Source: www.family.findlaw.com, "Guardianship basics", Accessed June 9, 2015

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