Keep Your Family’s Future Secure

Who can I appoint as a guardian for my elderly parent?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Guardianships And Conservatorships

When a loved one is dealing with age-related impairments, everyday decision-making can become challenging. These impairments can be due to dementia, Parkinson’s disease or other disorders. In these situations, considering guardianship might be necessary. Choosing a guardian, particularly for an elderly parent living away from home, requires careful thinking.

Fortunately, Florida law provides guidelines to ensure the appointed guardian is trustworthy and capable of taking on this significant responsibility.

Determining a guardian

Guardianship begins when a person becomes a “ward” of the state. This happens when the person can no longer manage their affairs due to either physical or mental incapacity. The court then appoints a guardian to manage the ward’s affairs. In Florida, family members often serve as the first choice for a guardian. However, to qualify for this role, they must meet certain criteria as outlined under Florida law.

Specifically, a suitable guardian must be at least 18 years old. They should also be a Florida resident. But non-residents can also serve as a guardian if they are a:

  • Direct descendant of the ward
  • Legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the ward
  • Spouse, sibling or a close relative (such as a niece, nephew, aunt or uncle) of the ward, or someone directly related to the ward

In addition, they must have no felony or criminal convictions for the court to consider them a qualified guardian.

Requirements post-appointment

Once appointed, the guardian must fulfill certain obligations. If the guardian is a family member, they must attend an eight-hour educational course designed for guardians. They must also undergo criminal and credit background checks and, subsequently, file proof of fulfilling these requirements with the court.

For non-Florida residents, they can complete the educational course via audiotapes.

Considering alternatives to guardianship

Guardianship carries a lot of responsibility, mainly to look after the ward’s best interests. Once a guardian is appointed, the appointee’s main aim isn’t just to protect. It’s also to respect the ward’s dignity, recognize their rights and support their independence as best as possible. However, guardianship is a complex process. It can limit your loved one’s personal freedom in certain areas, such as decision-making and daily living. So, it would help to consider guardianship as a last resort after exploring all simpler and less restrictive options.