A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit court in which a guardian exercises the legal rights of an incapacitated person, minor, voluntary wards, or developmentally disabled individuals. Guardians make decisions and take actions regarding the well being of the ward.

Guardianships may be established for various reasons: An adult who lacks the ability to care for or make decisions regarding himself/herself or financial affairs; a minor who has received an inheritance or personal injury settlement; or a minor who is living with someone other than a parent who will need to make decisions about schooling and health care.

A guardian can be an individual or institution, such as a bank, appointed by the court to guard over the person only, property only, or both person and property. Those convicted of a felony cannot be appointed. At the time of appointment, the court will determine the guardian's powers to be limited or plenary to exercise some or all rights of the minor or incapacitated person.

Every guardian should become familiar with the powers and duties of a guardian reflected in Florida Statutes 744.361. A specific function of the guardian is to file initial and annual reports as outlined in Florida Statutes 744.362 and 744.367.