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Published: 2008-03-26

Florida Guardianship Procedures

A person is qualified under Florida Law to serve as a guardian if he or she:

  1. Is over the age of 18 years of age;
  2. Is a Florida resident; or a non resident who is:
    1. Related by lineal consanguinity to the ward;
    2. A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the ward;
    3. A spouse, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew of the ward, or someone elated by lineal consanguinity to any such person; or
    4. The spouse of a person otherwise qualified above; and
  3. Has never been convicted of a felony.
Filed with the Court, along with the Petition to Determine Incapacity, is a Petition for Appointment of Guardian, and an Application for Appointment as Guardian.

In Pinellas County, Florida, unless the Alleged Incapacitated Person is indigent, the Petition must also be accompanied by a check to the Clerk of Court for the filing fees of $288.50, and a check in the amount of $20.00 to the Pinellas County Sheriff for service of process.

Upon the filing of a Petition to Determine Incapacity, the Court appoints three individuals to serve as members of an examining committee. One member must be a psychiatrist or other physician. The remaining members must be either a psychologist, gerontologist, another psychiatrist, or other physician, a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, a licensed social worker, a person with an advanced degree in gerontology from an accredited institution of higher education, or other person who by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may, in the court's discretion, advise the court in the form of an expert opinion. One of three members of the committee must have knowledge of the type of incapacity alleged in the petition. Unless good cause is shown, the attending or family physician may not be appointed to the committee.

The examining committee members each meet independently with the alleged incapacitated person to evaluate his or her abilities and make a written report, which is filed with the Court.

The Court also appoints an attorney to represent the alleged incapacitated person. The alleged incapacitated person may substitute their own attorney to represent them throughout the proceeding.

If a family member is appointed by the Court to serve as guardian, said family member will be required to attend an eight (8) hour educational course for guardians, and must also submit to criminal and credit background checks, proof of which must be filed with the Court. It is possible for non Florida residents to "attend" the educational course by listening to audio tapes.

The approximate cost to open a guardianship, which includes court costs, the examining committee fees, the court appointed attorney's fees, and your attorney's fees, range from approximately $5,000.00 to $7,500.00 or more. Thereafter, the guardianship fees and costs can range from $300.00 to over $2,500.00 per year.

This is a brief overview of Florida guardianship procedures, which I hope will help to give you a better idea of what is involved in a Florida guardianship proceeding.