In Florida there are two different classes of guardians. There are public guardians who are usually someone you know and trust to handle your affairs. They can be any mentally competent person over the age of 18. Then there are “professional guardians” as defined by the Department of Elderly Affairs. Never heard of a “professional guardian” before? Most people haven’t. This blog discusses what professional guardians are and what they can do for you.
What is a Professional Guardian?
The Office of Public and Professional Guardians in Florida defines a professional guardian as any person “who has at any time rendered services to three or more wards” who are not their relatives in the position as a guardian.
A professional guardian must register with the Office of Public and Professional Guardians. They must also put up a bond, have educational requirements, and pass both a criminal background and credit check to become a professional guardian.
Who Can Be a Professional Guardian?
To become a professional guardian, you can be a natural person or a corporation as long as you are providing guardianship services. You must also meet the requirements to become a professional guardian. These include a minimum of 40 hours of instruction and training completed through a course approved or offered by the Office of Public and Professional Guardians. You must also show competency by taking an examination. As a professional guardian you, and your employees, are subject to a level 2 background screening and credit check. Find out more about becoming a professional guardian in the state of Florida here.
Most professional guardians are professionals in other areas as well. It is well known that a great many professional guardians are also lawyers, bankers, or people who manage trusts. They are aware of the fiduciary duty owed by a guardian to the ward and are familiar with the rules of the court. They can also be a corporation or agency familiar with guardianship laws in the state where they operate.
What Does a Professional Guardian Do?
What a professional guardian does often depends on what their qualifications are. For example, if the court appointed two professional guardians for the care of one person, they would work together to take care of the entire estate and person. A financial institution appointed as guardian would handle the management and care of a trust. While a lawyer appointed as co-guardian might be responsible for the management of the person to ensure they are properly cared for.
When would a Professional Guardian be Appointed?
There are many times when a professional guardian may be needed. For instance, if there are no family members who are able or willing to take responsibility for a person, a professional would be appointed. A professional can also be appointed if there is a family member willing to take care of the person but needs help with the financial aspects of the management of the ward’s estate.
How Does a Professional Guardian Get Paid?
Professional guardians get paid just like public guardians, through the estate of the ward. Any fees or costs related to the care of the ward are paid directly from the ward’s estate under the supervision of the court. In most cases the professional guardian will petition the court for reimbursement of funds for the costs associated with estate management and their professional fees.
If there is a person in need of guardianship and no one to care for them, a professional guardian may be an excellent choice. Additionally, if you are a guardian and need professional help, you can always petition the court for a professional co-guardian to help you with matters beyond your control. Anytime you are considering a guardianship you should contact an attorney for advice. My office is here to assist you and help you to discuss your options. Contact the Law Office of Lori Vella today.
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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.