What To Do When You Are Appointed As A Guardian
If you are close with someone of advancing age or have family members of advancing age, you should not be surprised if one day you are appointed as their guardian. Maybe you expected this to happen—hopefully, you had discussions about accepting this appointment if need be—but sometimes we find that obligation thrust on us unexpectedly, and we are left wondering what to do.
Get an Attorney
First, remember that as a guardian, you do have a right to your own attorney. Often, the estate of the ward (the person who needs the guardian) may have financial preparations to help compensate you for your time, or at least to pay any extra expenses that you may incur by reason of being the guardian.
What Does the Order Say?
After you see a guardianship attorney, the next thing you want to do (or that your attorney will do for you) is read the actual guardianship order. The order will spell out the nature of your guardianship, the limitations on what you can do, what freedoms you are assuming, and which freedoms the ward retains.
Remember that you aren’t just a guardian—you are a fiduciary to the ward.
That means that you have a binding, legal duty to act in the ward’s best interest. Managing the ward’s property in the most efficient, appropriate way possible, and according to his or her best interests. It also means that where court approval is required to use or spend the ward’s money, you must get approval.
You should keep accurate and detailed records and receipts so that the court knows what the ward’s money was used for and can ensure that it was used in the ward’s best interest.
You can and should speak to the ward about your decisions. Of course, depending on the condition of the ward, this may not always be practical. And, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the directions of the ward—the ward has a guardian because he or she is incapable of making their own decisions, after all.
If you and the ward disagree on how money or property should be used, or what is in the ward’s best interest, you should speak to your guardianship attorney.
As mentioned previously, you will need to file reports with the court, detailing how the ward’s money or property is being used. Your guardianship attorney will often do this for you.
Remember that the ward still has personal rights. You should not restrict who the ward speaks to, or alienate the ward from friends, family, or social interactions. You should not, unless the guardianship order says otherwise, restrict who the ward sees, spends time with, or has relationships with.
The ward is not a prisoner and maintains basic human rights (as well as any rights that aren’t included in the guardianship order).
Have you been appointed a guardian, or do you have questions about a possible guardianship legal problem? Contact the Tampa guardianship lawyers at the Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A. today.