A guardianship is a legal court proceeding in which a guardian exercises the legal rights of an incapacitated person or a minor child. All guardianship matters in Florida require an attorney.
Guardianships for an adult person are filed when it is believed that a person is not mentally capable of taking care of himself/herself. Mental Health appoints a committee to evaluate the person and make their report to the court. Guardians can be appointed as guardian of the person only, property only, or person and property. If a person recovers in whole or part from the condition that caused him or her to be incapacitated, the court will have the ward examined and can restore some or all of the person's rights.
Guardianships for minors are filed when the minor child has inherited money or has property in excess of $15,000. A guardian of the property is all that is needed if the minor child's parents are living. If the minor child's parents are deceased or unable to be appointed guardians, he/she may need a guardian of the person and property.
The Florida Statute for Guardianships can be found at F.S. Chapter 744.
What is a Guardian?
A guardian is an individual or institution, such as a nonprofit corporation or bank trust department, appointed by the court to care for a minor or incapacitated person, also called a ward, or for the ward's assets.
What is a Guardianship Audit?
- Level 1 Audit: Audits of Guardianship Reports and supporting documentation at this level is primarily performed by Probate staff. This level of audit includes cases that were determined during the desk review to have discrepancies or concerns requiring a more detailed review. The primary objective of the level 1 audit is to determine whether all expenditures were for the benefit of the ward. If red flags are identified, an additional review may entail a Level 2 or 3 Audit by the Inspector General Guardianship Auditor, providing guidance to the Probate staff or the court on incremental steps to take to ensure reports are complete and accurate.
What is an Enhanced Guardianship Audit?
- Level 2 Audit: Consists of an Inspector General Guardianship Auditor examination of the guardianship reports, and the attempted verification of selected questionable items. Inquiries and/or requests for supporting documentation may be necessary to resolve issues.
- Level 3 Audit: Consists of an Inspector General Guardianship Auditor comprehensive examination and attempted verification of all significant items pertinent to the guardianship report. Detailed review of accounts and attendant transactions is common, which may include third-party confirmations.
Report Guardianship Fraud
Do you suspect a guardian, family member, attorney or caregiver of financial mismanagement, such as stealing money from a ward's account, selling off a ward's property or making suspicious loans or money transfers? Report it to the Inspector General!
Using the Inspector General Hotline, you can report suspected fraud, waste, abuse or financial mismanagement involving court-appointed guardians over elderly, minor children and incapacitated individuals.
The Hotline should not be used to report physical abuse or neglect of a ward. If you suspect physical abuse or neglect, please contact:
The Florida Department of Children and Families at: 800-96ABUSE (800-962-2873).
In addition, threats of violence, emergencies or situations in which the ward's health and safety are at risk should be reported immediately to the appropriate law enforcement agency or 911.