Guardianship & Special Needs Planning

When is a Guardianship needed?
A minor or a physically and/or mentally incapacitated individual who cannot manage their general health and welfare and/or manage their financial affairs may need a Guardian appointed by the court to handle the care of their person and management of their property.

Can I apply for a Guardianship on my own?
No, in Florida, an individual pursing a guardianship must be represented by a Florida licensed attorney.

What are the types of guardianships available?
There are many types of guardianships, the following are the more common types:

  • Emergency Temporary Guardianship
  • Limited Guardianship
  • Plenary (meaning complete) Guardianship
  • Voluntary Guardianship

What are the requirements to obtain an emergency guardianship?
An emergency guardianship may be obtained if there is a risk of imminent danger to the health and safety of the individual or others. The court must find that there is imminent danger that the person’s physical or mental health or safety will be seriously impaired or that his property is in danger of being wasted, misappropriated, or lost unless immediate action is taken.

An emergency temporary guardian is appointed act for up to ninety (90) days. The court has authority to extend the temporary guardianship for an additional ninety (90) days.
The threshold is very high to obtain an emergency guardianship and are appropriate in only the most serious cases.

What is a limited Guardianship?
A limited guardianship is when the court assigns some, but not all of an individual delegable rights of a person to a Guardian.

What is a plenary Guardianship?
A plenary (or complete) guardianship, all delegable rights of the individual are given to the appointed Guardian.

What is a voluntary Guardianship?
A voluntary guardianship is when an individual elects to have his/her rights delegated to a guardian. For example, an elderly person who is competent but overwhelmed with handling his/her financial affairs could agree to a guardian being designated on their behalf. 
When a guardianship is voluntary, there does not need to be an adjudicatory hearing proving that the individual is incompetent and thus in need of a guardian. All voluntary guardianship are plenary in nature (meaning complete) rather than limited.

Who can serve as a guardian?
Any Florida resident who is over the age of eighteen (18) and who has not been convicted of a felony may serve as guardian. It is also preferable that the Guardian has a good credit history.