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What is 'voluntary guardianship' in Florida?

When this blog has discussed adult guardianship in the past, it has generally focused on the somewhat more common "involuntary guardianship." However, "voluntary guardianship" is also an option in Florida. Unlike involuntary guardianship, voluntary guardianship can occur without a finding of incapacity, and upon the petition of the person who needs the guardian.

Florida Statute 744.341 sets out the requirements for a voluntary guardianship. In general, the court can appoint a guardian for someone without a finding of incapacity if that person has petitioned the court to do so and cannot manage his or her own estate due to age or some physical limitation. For the court to do so, however, the petitioner will have to submit documentation from a physician that the petitioner has been examined and that he or she is competent to understand the nature of what is being given up by the guardianship petition. Guardians appointed under this voluntary process can either be plenary, that is, exercising authority over all delegable aspects of the ward's estate, or limited to certain duties that the petitioner has requested.

When a guardian appointed under a voluntary guardianship petition files the annual report with the court, he or she will have to include another document from a doctor attesting to the ward's continuing competency to understand the guardianship. This physician must have examined the ward within 90 days of the filing of the annual report. The ward can terminate a voluntary guardianship at any time by filing a notice of termination with the court, and serving it on all interested parties.

Voluntary guardianship is an important right for Floridians to have. Those who think that voluntary guardianship would be good for them or who simply want to learn more about the process may want to turn to Florida statutes for more information.

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