What is a Conservatorship?
Basically, a conservatorship is when one person is legally responsible for another person by court order. Conservators must petition the court to be able to control the estate of another. That person is called a ward. The ward must be unable to care for themselves for the court to appoint a guardian. This may be due to mental illness, infirmity, or many other reasons. Most cases in Florida are brought when someone has conditions such as advanced Alzheimer’s. Once a conservator is granted a petition in Florida, they become a guardian and are subject to guardianship laws. Learn more about guardianships here.
What are the different types of guardianships?
There are three different types of guardianships for adults in Florida. The limited, plenary, or voluntary guardianship.
The limited guardian will oversee one area of the ward’s affairs, such as their financial accounts. In this position the limited guardian supervises all financial matters concerning the ward. They will handle all accounts – personal bank accounts, mortgages, retirement accounts, etc. on the ward’s behalf. The guardian protects the assets of the ward from depletion and saves funds to care for them if needed.
In addition to the above powers, the plenary guardian is given powers over the ward’s person. They oversee all personal and medical decisions for the ward. They will get reports on all your medical information and manage your prescriptions. In this way, the guardian is making sure that you will not harm yourself or another person, but this power can be abused.
A person can voluntarily petition the court to appoint a guardian for themselves as well. They may ask for a limited or plenary guardian to manage their affairs while they may be coping with a medical issue. This happens when someone knows they have a mental condition or are deteriorating quickly and want someone to handle matters for them.
How is a guardianship managed?
Guardianships are managed and avoid abuse through the laws that govern guardians. All guardianships are managed under the direction of the court. To appoint a guardian-conservator there must be a petition filed with the court. At a hearing, the petitioner must present evidence of why they believe the ward needs a guardian-conservator. Once granted, the guardian-conservator must swear under oath they will faithfully perform their duties. They are now an official legal guardian of the ward under Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes. The court also requires guardians to come in annually to make a report on the status of the ward and to sell anything valued over $5,000.00.
Who can be a conservator or guardian?
To become a conservator or guardian in Florida you must be 18 years of age and be mentally competent. You can be a family member, friend, or other person of interest, but you must be willing to serve as a guardian. To become a professional guardian, you must register with the state who will review your credentials to ensure you qualify for the position.
How long does a guardianship last?
In the Britney Spears case, she was under a conservatorship for nearly 14 years. However, her guardianship was unusual in comparison to other cases. Most conservatorships are put in place for the elderly or infirm, therefore they will last until the ward is deceased. If you found her case to be interesting, there are many other famous people who have also been in a conservatorship. Casey Kasem, Joni Mitchell, Mickey Rooney, Brian Wilson, and Amanda Bynes have been or are currently in a conservatorship. Find out more here.
If you want to learn more about the Britney Spears conservatorship, find out more in my blog “#Freebritney is finally over. So, what did we learn?”. Considering a guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one? Don’t hesitate to contact my office to discuss your options. Contact the Law Office of Lori Vella today.
Photo by David Mark, https://pixabay.com/
Lori Vella is an Estate Planning and Business Attorney. She works virtually throughout Florida and New York, but has her home office in Tampa, Florida. She is mom to a little boy which ignited the passion for helping other families. She and her son enjoy car rides, playgrounds and taking mini-adventures. They also have an organic garden that surprisingly yields vegetables. Lori considers herself well-versed in Seinfeld and welcomes any trivia!
Disclaimer: The Law Office of Lori Vella’s website contains general information directed to Florida residents. This firm does not intend to give legal advice through its pages and/or blog. If you need legal advice, we encourage you to find an attorney licensed in your state. This language on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and this firm.