Guardians have an almost unlimited power to control the lives of their wards. They can act to obtain a place to live, pay taxes, collect government benefits, and even sell or acquire property using that ward’s funds. Because of this immense power, Florida state law also places a heavy burden of responsibility on guardians.
The duties of a guardian in Fort Lauderdale require a person to only act in the best interests of their wards. This requirement exists to provide the best possible care for the incapacitated person and to ensure that only guardians with a genuine desire to help obtain these significant powers. An experienced guardianship attorney like Marc Brown, P.A. can explain these legal responsibilities in further detail during an initial consultation.
Guardians are Fiduciaries Towards their Wards
One concept that accurately and succinctly describes the duties of guardians in Fort Lauderdale is present in Florida Statute § 744.361. This statute states that guardians are fiduciaries and must act in good faith in regard to their ward’s care.
A fiduciary duty describes the obligations of parties to protect the finances of others. Under this charge, guardians must take actions that aim to help wards protect their money and property. Additionally, acting in good faith requires each and every decision that a guardian makes to be in alignment with those of the ward. At no point can a guardian consider how a particular decision will impact themselves or their own finances. Speaking with a knowledgeable attorney could help individuals obtain a better understanding of the full responsibilities of a guardian in Fort Lauderdale.
Specific Tasks that Guardians may Perform to Fulfill their Duties
In addition to informing potential guardians about their duties, a practiced legal professional at our firm can also provide suggestions as to what steps they could take to avoid violating their legal requirements.
One critical piece of advice is to keep one’s own funds and those of the ward separated. While being a guardian does give a person direct access to a ward’s property and bank accounts, only pay for things such as housing, food, and clothing from the ward’s funds. Similarly, any proceeds from the sale of property or the receipt of government benefits must go directly into the ward’s accounts.
Following these general rules helps guardians to avoid any legal challenges to their authority or even lawsuits that allege wrongdoing. FL Stat. § 744.369 asserts that courts must evaluate the actions of guardians at least once every year and concerned parties can submit formal complaints to the court if they believe that violations of the guardianship duty have occurred.
Furthermore, apparent violations of the guardianship duty may expose that person to lawsuits from either the ward or the ward’s estate in the event of their death. These lawsuits may attempt to hold a guardian personally liable for any undue reduction in the value of the ward’s property. Understanding the duties of guardians in Fort Lauderdale could help people to act in ways that minimize the risk of these legal pitfalls.
People Seeking Guardianship Must Be Aware of the Duties of a Guardian in Fort Lauderdale
State law clearly states that guardians have two main duties regarding the care of their wards. First, they have a fiduciary duty to do everything in their power to protect the value of their ward’s assets. Second, every decision that they make must be in the best interests of the ward. These two core concepts form the basis for all legal responsibilities of guardians in Fort Lauderdale.
Understanding these requirements is vital for the protection of wards and the legal status of guardians. A failure to follow these rules could lead to censure from a court, removal as a guardian, or lawsuits that demand compensation. Talk with a lawyer at Marc Brown, P.A. today to learn more about the duties of a guardian in Fort Lauderdale.