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Why a Bad Guardianship Attorney Could Cost You
Filing for guardianship is almost never planned for in advance. Most of the time, the need arises because someone discovers that mom or dad are being exploited by a friend or another family member. Other times, it is because a minor receives a settlement from an accident or an inheritance because they lost one or both of their parents.
By the time any of these happen, there isn’t much time to sit back and plan what needs to be done next because something needs to happen now. When there is an urgent need to act, it can be hard to think everything through. The most important thing to do is to find an attorney with experience in Guardianship from the start.
There are requirements a Guardian must meet before they get appointed by the Court, and even more after they have been appointed. For example, someone seeking to be appointed as a Guardian is required to undergo a federal background check and credit check before they can be appointed. Within four months of being appointed as a Guardian, the Guardian is required to take an 8-hour Guardianship Education Course which goes over all the powers and responsibilities of being a guardian. These are just some of the examples that can cause delays in getting appointed, or even getting removed as Guardian by the Court.
The law authorizes a Guardian to do many things on behalf of their Ward, but some of those things require prior Court approval before the Guardian can act. Things like:
- making any repairs to the Ward’s property,
- entering into a lease agreement on the Ward’s behalf,
- selling any real or personal property,
- abandoning valueless property,
- making gifts on behalf of the Ward,
- accept a settlement on behalf of a Ward, especially if the Ward is a minor,
And that’s just to name a few. A big one that many people don’t know about is that for a minor, the Guardian cannot pay expenses of the minor ward’s support, health, maintenance, and education out of the minor’s funds if either of the ward’s parents are still alive. This is because it is the parents’ responsibility to pay for those things and the settlement or inheritance of the minor is to be preserved as much as possible for when the minor turns 18. If a Guardian does any of those things without getting Court approval first, they could face serious consequences.
If you are working with an Injury Attorney and need to establish a Guardianship to accept the settlement for your minor, make sure to ask if they have experienced Guardianship Attorneys working there. Many times, an injury firm will file to open the guardianship simply to have the settlement approved and offer little to no advice to the guardian regarding their duties and responsibilities for the rest of the guardianship.
Florida Guardianship law has many nuances and pitfalls a Guardian is required to navigate. If you run into any situation where Guardianship is needed, make sure to contact an experienced guardianship attorney from the beginning to help keep you out of trouble with the Court.