When you undertake the responsibility of helping a loved one manage important life decisions that they can no longer handle on their own, there are several very important things you must do on a consistent basis to stay in compliance with the courts.
To help Guardians manage the details and the responsibilities that go along with Guardianship, we put together this checklist.
A Checklist for Florida Guardians
1. Track Your Visits with the Ward – A “ward” is the term the courts use for the person in need of Guardianship. While it seems obvious that you will visit the ward, it is very important for the ward to know you and for she or he to know their family will be there for them. You can keep track of your visits in a notebook or using a notes app on your cellphone.
2. Hire an Attorney – You will need a Guardianship Attorney to help you through the process and to answer your questions. This is not a recommendation; it is a requirement by the State of Florida. Lisa DiFranza works directly with our clients to ensure they are at ease with every step of the Guardianship process. She can help you determine if Guardianship is truly needed or if your loved one’s affairs can be managed with a lesser restrictive form of assistance.
3. Incapacity Hearing – This is an important part of the process in which your loved one’s capacity will be determined by the courts. The courts will appoint a committee of three members, one expert and two physicians. The committee will make the final decision as to whether or not Guardianship is the best course of action for your loved one. DiFranza Law has the experience to help your family navigate this process. We can help you file the required petition with the court. The petition will include all of the factual information used by the courts to determine your loved one’s incapacity.
4. After You Are Appointed by the Courts as Guardian, You will Need to:
- Assess and attend to any of the ward’s immediate needs, i.e., medical treatments, housing, etc.
- Inventory the ward’s assets and personal items.
- Have all of the inventory appraised, if necessary.
- Get letters of Guardianship.
- Give consent to medical procedures and nonmedical treatments.
- Get a bond or designation of depository from the court.
- For standard and recurring expenses, set up a deposit account.
- Set up Guardianship accounts and transfer title on the accounts making sure you can show records of any previous estate planning.
- Inform the sources of income that there is a guardianship.
- Engage a financial planner, if appropriate.
- For acts requiring prior court approval, submit a petition.
- Submit required court reports.
- If required by the court, attend a court-approved training program.
- Keep visiting the ward based on their individual circumstances and the minimum requirements set forth.
5. Get the Ward Stabilized
- If your loved one does not live in an assisted living or care facility, determine if placement is appropriate.
- Locate all financial accounts and assets.
- If necessary, apply for financial assistance benefits.
- As required, submit a request for guardianship fees.
- Complete and submit an annual report.
We Can Help You Navigate Guardianship
When your loved one is in need of a guardian, we are here to help. No matter where you are in the process, Guardianship Attorney Lisa DiFranza has the experience you need. Our law firm focuses on five core areas: Guardianship, Guardian Advocacy, Probate, Estate Planning, and Adoption. Lisa provides a personal touch for all of our clients to ensure they receive the guidance and support needed to achieve their goals.