Probate


Guardianship FAQs


A guardian is appointed by the court to act on the behalf of a person who has been deemed unable to provide for his or her own well-being. A guardian can act on behalf of a person’s property as well.

What is a Ward?


If a person is adjudicated to be incapacitated, the court will specify which rights the person is incapable of exercising. The court must then appoint a guardian(s) to exercise those specified rights on behalf of the incapacitated person. When a guardian is appointed, the incapacitated person is then referred to as the ward. A ward can also be a minor child.

A ward is most often associated with guardianship cases (CP).



What is a Guardian Advocate?


A guardian advocate can be appointed when a child with a developmental disability turns 18 years of age. As an adult, the parent no longer has the legal ability to make decisions for the person. To qualify under Florida Statutes, the person with a developmental disability must have a disorder or syndrome that is attributable to retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida or Prader-Willi syndrome; that manifests itself prior to the age of 18; and constitutes a significant disability that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.



What is a limited Guardian?


A limited guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court to exercise the legal rights specifically designated in the court's order. A court will enter such an order after it has found that the ward lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for his or her own person or property. A court may also enter such an order after a person has voluntarily petitioned for his or her appointment.



What is a Plenary Guardian?


A Plenary Guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of the ward after the court has found that the ward lacks the capacity to perform all of the tasks necessary to care for his or her own person or property.



What is an incapacitated person?


An incapacitated person is a person who has been judicially determined to lack the capacity necessary to manage at least some of his or her property or who cannot provide for his or her own health and safety.

If you believe it may be necessary to petition the court for a judicial determination of incapacity of someone you know, contact an attorney for legal advice.

Incapacity is most often associated with mental health cases (MH).



What types of reports are required of a guardian?


The guardian of the person is required to file an initial guardianship plan and an annual guardianship plan. The guardian of the property is required to file an inventory and an annual financial return. Reports should be filed with:

Clerk's Probate Division
425 North Orange Avenue
Room 355
Orlando, Florida 32801



When are Reports due?


The initial reports must be filed within 60 days after letters of guardianship are issued.

The annual reports must be filed 60-90 days before the end of the last day of the anniversary month in which the letters of guardianship were issued. 

The annual accounting is due the first day of the fourth month after the anniversary month.



Are there any audit fees involved in filing the reports?


There are no audit fees for an initial or annual guardianship plan. The audit fee for the initial inventory is $85, if the assets of the ward exceed $25,000. The audit fee for the annual financial return ranges from $20 to $250, depending on the value of the estate.



Are there fees related to the guardianship process?


The fee for the examining committee varies. The court appointed attorney's fee and the examining committee's fee are ultimately charged against the incapacitated person's assets; however, if the person is indigent, the fees are paid by the state. If the petition is dismissed without an adjudication of incapacity, and the court finds that the petition was filed in bad faith, the costs may be assessed against the petitioner.



Guardian-Related Mental Health FAQs


Why can't the alleged incapacitated person's family doctor be appointed to the examining committee?
According to Florida law, the attending or family physician may not be a member of the examining committee unless good cause is shown to the court for his or her appointment.

Will an incapacitated person lose his or her driver's license?
Yes. By order of the court, driving privileges will be revoked. 

How soon can I be appointed the guardian for an incapacitated person?
The court may appoint an emergency temporary guardian if necessary. This type of guardian is usually appointed within 48 hours. A guardian of the person, a guardian of the property or a guardian of the person and property will usually be appointed within approximately 30 days.