Do You Need Guardianship or Power of Attorney in Florida?

Several high-profile celebrities have recently sought a conservatorship for a family member including Jay Leno, his wife Mavis, and Cher for her son, Elijah Blue Allman, claiming they cannot adequately manage their affairs or make proper medical decisions.

Do you need guardianship or power of attorney in Florida? There’s a long list of celebrities involved with conservatorship or guardianship matters, although the thirteen-year conservatorship of Brittany Spears may have gotten the biggest headlines. A recent Paso Robles Daily News article, “Conservatorship or power of attorney? The answer it: it depends,” explains the difference.

A conservatorship/guardianship occurs when a court appoints a person, the conservator/guardian, to oversee decision-making for another person. A conservatee/ward is a person who has been deemed unable to make decisions for themselves or to care for themselves. Different states have different names for this process; in some states, it’s known as guardianship, and the appointed person is the guardian, with the person under their care known as their ward.

There are several different forms of conservatorship/guardianship. They include:

  • Of the estate, where the conservator/guardian has full authority over the person’s finances. The person may retain their physical autonomy but cannot access finances. Trusts are not included in this arrangement.
  • Of the person, if the person has been found unable to make decisions about their life and physical health.
  • Some states have specific conservatorships/guardianships designed to provide care by a conservator/guardian for people with mental health disorders.

A Power of Attorney gives one person many of the same abilities as a conservator/guardian, minus the involvement and required reporting to the court. The person who executes the POA must be legally able to do so; they cannot be incapacitated. The POA is useful for someone who is undergoing surgery, for instance, and knows they will be incapacitated in the future for a certain amount of time but wishes to have someone else take care of their affairs. Similarly, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate gives another person the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of another person. Like a POA, the Health Care Surrogate Designation doesn’t require going to court to be executed.

Planning ahead and creating a Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive (sometimes referred to as a Power of Health Care Attorney), and other estate planning documents is how a responsible person ensures that their family is ready if something unexpected occurs. An estate planning attorney in Florida can create these documents as part of your estate plan. Book your call today!

Reference: Paso Robles Daily News (March 12, 2024) “Conservatorship or power of attorney? The answer it: it depends”

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