The most important job of a Florida Guardian
The most important job of a Florida Guardian is to ALWAYS act in the Best Interests of the Ward. A Florida Guardian is a person appointed by a court to take care of someone who cannot care for himself or herself. The individual who is determined to need help by the court is called the Ward. This term is the same regardless of age (Guardians of adult or Guardian of a minor). A Florida Guardian can be appointed by a court to make the Ward’s health care decisions, to manage the Ward’s assets, or both. A Florida Guardian should always make decisions based on the best interests of the Ward.
Acting in the Best interests of a Ward’s Person
When a Florida Guardian is appointed by a court to make health care decisions for a Ward, they become the Guardian of the person. In addition to making health are decisions for a Ward, a Florida Guardian of the Person also consents to and determines non-medical services, the Ward’s residence, whom the Ward can marry, who the Ward can socialize with and more. When making any decision regarding a Ward’s person, the most important job of a Florida Guardian is to make the decision that is in the Best of Interests of the Ward.
For example, when determining an adult ward’s residence, the guardian needs to take into account the type of care the Ward needs. The residence of the Ward must be able to meet all of the Ward’s physical and mental health care requirements.
If the Ward has dementia or Alzheimer’s, perhaps the residence of the Ward should be a memory care facility.
If the adult ward can maintain some independence, it may be appropriate to place the Ward in an assisted living community where the Ward can maintain as much independence as possible.
If the Ward is a minor, the Florida Guardian should take into account the school district the minor lives in and/or the location of the minor’s extracurricular activities, along with the location of any other needs the minor may have.
Acting in the Best Interests of a Ward’s Property
When a Florida Guardian is appointed by a court to manage a Ward’s assets, they are the Guardian of the Property of the Ward. Managing a Ward’s assets can includes, keeping the Ward’s property safe, paying the Ward’s bills, making investment decisions, and maintaining a monthly budget. Managing the Ward’s assets in the Best Interests of the Ward means making decisions that take into account the current and future needs of the Ward. This means the most important job of a Florida Guardian is to create a monthly budget and make investment decisions based on:
- The Ward’s current assets;
- The Ward’s age and their life expectancy;
- The needs of the Ward today; and
- The Ward’s needs in the future.
Example: A Ward is 55 years old and currently needs 24-hour care. Due to the Ward’s disability, the Ward will need 24-hour care for the rest of her life. The Ward currently lives in her own home with 24-hour care provided by a home health care agency. Home health care costs $10,000 per month. The Ward has cash assets of $500,000. A Florida Guardian needs to determine whether $10,000 per month for home health care is in the best interests of the Ward.
Case Analysis: At the rate of $10,000 per month, the Ward will only be able to pay for 24-hour home health care for approximately four years. At just 55 years old, the Ward will most likely live longer than four years. If the Ward’s current care plan remains the same, her cash assets will be drained in only four years. No assets will remain to pay for the Ward’s care. How will the care of the Ward be paid for once her assets are depleted?
Under these circumstances, it is not in the Best Interests of the Ward to remain in her own home with home health care. There are not enough assets to maintain this type of care throughout the rest of her life. The Florida Guardian needs to find a less expensive care plan that will ensure there are enough assets for the Ward’s care throughout her life.
At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, our experienced Florida Guardianship Lawyers can help you determine what is in the best interests of the Ward. Contact us today for a free initial consultation (904) 685-1200.