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Navigating Foreign Guardianships in Florida

By: Joshua Rosenberg, Esq. May 7, 2024 no comments

Navigating Foreign Guardianships in Florida

Guardianship laws can be complex, especially when they involve matters crossing state or international borders. Nearly every state has adopted the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, which deals with which state has authority over the Ward (the person under guardianship) and Guardian in numerous situations. Only 4 states, including Florida, have not adopted this act. Instead, Florida created statutes it relies on to address some guardianship issues that may cross state lines.

A foreign guardianship refers to a guardianship that was established in a jurisdiction outside of Florida. This could be another state or even a foreign country. The need for recognizing foreign guardianships arises when a Ward moves to Florida or owns property in Florida. This is clearly a need for the snowbirds that come down to live here every winter.

Florida Statutes specifically identify three main types of foreign guardianships. The first being when the Ward and Guardian are both non-residents, but the Ward has relocated to Florida. When this happens, the Guardian is not required to open a brand-new guardianship in Florida. Instead, within 60 days of the Ward’s relocation, the Guardian has to file authenticated orders of their appointment in the County where the ward now resides. Once the Court approves these orders, the Guardian and the Ward become subject to the Florida Guardianship Code and must comply with all the same requirements as a guardian originally appointed in Florida. This is particularly beneficial because the parties have already gone through another state’s legal process to appoint a guardian and saves them from having to do it over a second time.

The Second type of Foreign Guardianship is referred to as a “Foreign Guardian of a Non-Resident Ward.” Florida allows a foreign guardian of a non-resident ward to manage the Ward’s Florida property. The foreign guardian can simply file a petition seeking to be appointed over the Florida property, describing the property, its value and any incumbrances on the property and what the Guardian desires to do with the property. Once approved by the Court, the Guardian is required to comply with the requirements of the Florida Guardianship Code when dealing with the Florida property.

The third type of Foreign Guardianship deals with a resident guardian, but a non-resident ward. When this is the case, if the ward’s alleged incapacity is due to mental or physical incapacity, the petition must be accompanied by an authenticated copy of the order determining incapacity from the original state or country. However, if there is a concern about the non-resident ward’s mental or physical capacity while they are only temporarily residing in Florida, and the Ward has not already been declared incapacitated in another state or country, then it will proceed the same as if the Ward was a resident of Florida and will follow the normal incapacity and guardianship procedures.

In all circumstances where a guardianship was established first in another state, Florida requires authenticated orders from the original state regarding the appointment, powers, or determination of incapacity of the Ward.

By following the procedures established for foreign guardianships, foreign guardians can seek recognition and enforcement of their existing guardianship orders in Florida while ensuring the best interests of the incapacitated person are protected. Always seek advice from an attorney experienced in guardianship matters to discuss these requirements and what alternatives might be available.

-Josh Rosenberg, Esq.

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