When parents are not able to care for their children because of incapacity, death or the severance of parental rights, the Florida probate court appoints a guardian. In addition, a guardian may be appointed to oversee and maintain a child’s property. For example, a guardian might be appropriate if the child wins a personal injury settlement or inherits a large sum of money.
The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Attia, PA focuses on estate planning, probate and guardian matters in the Southwest Florida communities surrounding Fort Myers. Our firm is a welcoming place that is ready to help clients make complicated decisions during difficult times. We put the needs of the children first as we assist parents and guardians through the legal process.
What Parents Should Know About Estate Planning
One of the most important aspects of your estate plan is arranging for the care of your children should you and the other parent become incapacitated or deceased. Naming a guardian gives you peace of mind that your children will be in good hands if the worst happens to you.
The judge generally honors the parents’ choice for guardianship, unless there is a compelling reason to name somebody else. For example, the court would likely consider a petition filed by a relative who has a strong relationship with the child, but would give deference to the parents’ choice.
To arrange for guardianship:
- Choose somebody who has a close relationship with your child and shares your childrearing philosophies and beliefs
- Confirm with your potential guardian that she or he is prepared to take on this important responsibility
- Name a guardian or, if a couple, co-guardians and alternatives in case your primary guardian cannot serve
- Provide the guardians’ names and contact information to your attorney to include in your will
What Guardians Should Know
To be the guardian of a child’s estate, the probate court must appoint you. This is true even if the parents named you in their will. You can petition the court to appoint you if the parents did not leave a will or if you have good reason to believe you are the appropriate guardian.
As a guardian, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the child’s best interests. You are responsible for maintaining the child’s property and using funds to pay for the child’s living expenses. You must keep strict records and be able to account for all expenditures made on the child’s behalf.
Your guardianship terminates when the child reaches the age of majority. After the child’s 18th birthday, you are, therefore, required to hand over all property to your ward and file for termination of the guardianship.
Attorney Attia can guide you through each stage of this process. He assists with the initial appointment of guardianship and can counsel you on your rights and duties to your ward.
Consult With an Experienced Fort Myers Guardianship Lawyer
Whether a parent, guardian or somebody interested in petitioning the court for guardianship of a minor, The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Attia, PA is here to help. Schedule a consultation with Fort Myers guardianship lawyer Jeffrey Attia today to learn more about Florida laws regarding the guardianship of minors at 239.919.2318 or contact us online.