Effective estate planning involves stipulating what happens to an individual’s belongings, and making provisions for any loved ones they may leave behind when they die or become incapacitated. Many types of guardianship exist, including those related to pets and children. Child guardianship and pet guardianship both entail appointing one or more individuals to look after the incapacitated or deceased person’s dependents. Understanding guardianships can help individuals make informed decisions as they prepare their estate plans. Learn the best way to appoint child guardianship or pet guardianship and find out how a seasoned and compassionate Florida estate planning and probate attorney can help by phoning Loughlin Law, P.A. at (561) 559-6866.
Understanding Child Guardianship and Pet Guardianship
According to the United States Department of Justice, guardianship refers to the appointment of an entity or individual to make key financial or personal decisions on behalf of another person when that person is not able to make these decisions on their own. This legal process establishes who takes responsibility for caring for an individual’s children or other dependents, such as pets, elderly family members, or other people the person currently cares for, when that person can no longer carry out those responsibilities themselves. After a guardian is appointed, they may assume all care responsibilities, including meeting the dependent’s food, education, medical, housing, and other essential requirements.
Guardianship Responsibilities Explained
A guardian’s exact responsibilities depend on whether they are a guardian of an estate or a of a living being. The former manages an estate’s finances, whereas the latter has custody of a person’s dependents and is responsible for their care. Generally, guardians of the person perform caretaking roles for the individuals under their guardianship when their original caregiver either passes away or becomes incapacitated.
Guardians of all kinds share a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of those they care for, and they often make key decisions on behalf of their dependents concerning their health care, financial issues, legal matters, and other personal affairs.
What Are the Different Types of Guardians?
The documents appointing a guardian may be tailored to indicate the parameters of the guardianship. The three main types of guardianship include the following:
- Full guardianship: These guardians have full responsibility for another individual and can make all of their decisions.
- Limited guardianship: This category refers to guardians who are only responsible for a selection of an individual’s needs, such as their health care or managing their finances.
- Joint guardianship: For this kind of guardianship, there are multiple guardians appointed.
These three broad categories encompass the extent of a guardian’s responsibility. Each of them can be applied to a variety of more specific circumstances, depending to a large extent on the person or estate for whom the guardian is responsible:
- Elderly guardianship: Such guardianships involve caring for elderly people who can no longer look after themselves.
- Minor guardianship: These guardians care for children and meet their basic needs and often make financial decisions on the minor’s behalf.
- Adult guardianship: Similar to elderly guardianships, but often apply to severely disabled individuals requiring an individual to care for them and make their key decisions.
- Medical guardianship: These guardians, often court-appointed, make health care decisions on behalf of another person when they become incapacitated.
- Pet guardianship: These guardians take responsibility for a person’s pet when the owner dies or is unable to continue caring for their pets for another reason, such as physical disability.
- Financial guardianship: Guardians in this category manage another person’s assets and finances while acting in the interests of the ward and keeping accurate financial records.
Find out more about the most effective methods for appointing child guardianship or pet guardianship by contacting a Florida estate planning and probate lawyer from Loughlin Law, P.A. to arrange a consultation.
How Much Does a Guardian Get Paid in Florida?
After completing a background check, application form, training courses, and meeting other state requirements, professional guardians may earn an estimated annual salary of $42,000 in Florida, alongside expenses. In Florida, professional guardians require a license, and it is necessary for license holders to pursue a minimum of 14 hours of continuing education on relevant topics annually. Some important topics include financial management, ethics, and advocating for dependents. If the courts appoint a guardian, they typically receive compensation for performing this role.
How Much Does It Cost To File for Guardianship in Florida?
When individuals want to appoint a guardian, it is necessary for them to pay certain filing fees, which may change annually. Depending on the guardianship type, these vary between $230 and $400. Additional costs, such as attorney fees and medical costs to determine the proposed guardian’s competency, might be necessary.
The individual under the guardianship, known as the ward, may fund these expenses through their health insurance or from their estate. When a ward qualifies for low-income support, the state can potentially fund these costs.
What Is the Difference Between a Legal Guardian and a Godparent?
In essence, guardians have legal rights concerning their wards, whereas godparents do not have any legal relationship with their godchild. Godparents have an active role in the godchild’s life, but their responsibilities are less likely to be delineated in legal documentation. In contrast, a child’s legal guardians have specific roles: namely, to care for the child if the parents die or become incapacitated.
How To Appoint a Guardian
As individuals prepare their estate plans, they may have questions about how to appoint a child guardianship or pet guardianship. The following steps may be useful in appointing a guardian for either a child or a pet:
- Identify the required guardianship type.
- Agree with the other parent or owner if there is one on whom to appoint as a guardian.
- Discuss the guardianship with the guardian prospects to determine their willingness to fulfill the role and follow your wishes.
- Determine how to establish the guardianship, such as through an attorney or online service.
- Sign the guardianship with the correct type and number of witnesses present in line with state rules.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning and Probate Attorney Today
The American Bar Association states that 20% of the population in the United States is likely to be over the age of 65 by 2030. Since aging may lead to cognitive decline or illness, it is increasingly important to create effective estate plans, including the naming of guardians in the event of a person’s death or incapacitation, to ensure an individual’s dependents receive effective care and support. Learn more about appointing child guardianship or pet guardianship and discover how a Florida estate planning and probate attorney from Loughlin Law, P.A. can assist with these legal matters by calling (561) 559-6866.