Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a Guardian?
A: A guardian is an individual or institution (such as a bank trust department), a charity or public guardian appointed by the court to care for an incapacitated person-called a “ward”- or for the wards assets.

Q: What is a Guardianship?
A: Guardianship was created to ensure the protection and dignity of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. Although often confused with the Guardian Ad Litem program, which deals with children, guardianship is the process of appointing a representative to protect and exercise the legal rights of individual adults who lack the capacity to make their own decisions and have not made plans to address this possibility.

Q: What is Public Guardianship?
A: Public Guardianship is for incapacitated persons who have no willing or qualified family members or friends and who do not have adequate income or assets for the compensation of a private guardian.

Public guardianship is for our most vulnerable: it is for those persons who are incapacitated, indigent and alone – it is a necessity. With the state’s rapid growth and the growing number of retirees, more and more Floridians who may be indigent and have no family or friends, will require the services of a public guardian.

Q: Who Needs a Guardian?
A: The Incompetent
If any person who is so mentally impaired as a result of a mental, physical illness, disability, mental retardation, or as a result of chronic substance abuse, that the person is incapable of taking proper care of himself or his property.

Q: Who Chooses the Guardian?
A: The Probate Court appoints the guardian. An adult, while competent, may nominate a guardian to serve in the event of incapacity.

Q: What does incapacity mean?
A: In law, capacity is the ability to understand the facts and significance of your behavior. The quality of not being capable -physically or intellectually or legally maybe seen by some of the general warning signs below:
• Loans to individuals including friends or caregivers, especially when there is no prior pattern of such lending.
• Loans that go far beyond the assets of the alleged incapacity person.
• Gifts to individuals and caregivers, especially when there is no prior patters of such giving and the recipients would not be the natural recipients of such gifts.
• Change in personal hygiene or lack of hygiene.
• Dramatic changes in bank or investment balances.
• Involvement in gambling or lottery schemes as well as delusions of winning such schemes.
• Evidence of possible consumer fraud, including enrollment in dance classes, purchasing water softeners for the home at inflated prices, unnecessary or exorbitantly priced home improvements or repairs.
• Refusal to seek medical treatment or abide by doctor’s orders.
• Complete dependence upon a relative, friend or caregiver.

Q: What Are The Types of Guardianships
A: There are three broad categories of guardians: family, professional and public.

Family Guardians
A preference exists in the law for the appointment of a guardian related to ward by blood or marriage.

Professional Guardians
Is any guardian who receives compensation for services to more than two wards, unless the wards are relatives of the guardian.

Public Guardian
Is a person or organization appointed by the Statewide Public Guardianship Office to serve as guardian for indigent, incapacitated persons who have no family or friends available to serve as guardian.