Lee County Clerk of Court, FLHome Menu
A guardianship exists when the court appoints a person (the guardian) to exercise all or some control over another individual's person and/or property. The appointment is usually made when an individual (the ward) is incapable of managing his or her own affairs.
An individual, through their attorney, files for a guardian to be appointed for a minor or an adult who is not mentally capable of taking care of himself/herself. When a guardianship petition is filed on an adult, an accompanying petition to determine incapacity is simultaneously filed as a separate proceeding in the Probate Department. The court will appoint a committee to evaluate the person and file their report with the court. The exception to this would be a guardian advocate petition. These petitions are for persons who are developmentally disabled. With these petitions, there is no requirement for the ward to be examined by a committee. Therefore, there will be no accompanying Mental Health file. Guardians can be appointed as guardian of the person only, property only, or person and property.
Guardianships are also filed for minors when the minor child has inherited money or property in excess of $15,000 from a deceased relative, or received money from a settlement in excess of $15,000. In this case, a guardian of the property is all that is needed if the minor child's parents are living. If a minor child's parents are deceased or unable to be appointed guardian, he/she may need a guardian of the person and property.
Parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions for their children after they turn 18 years of age. Guardian Advocacy is a process for family members, caregivers, or friends of individuals with a developmental disability to obtain the legal authority to act on their behalf. This is accomplished without having to declare the person with a developmental disability incapacitated. Guardian Advocate appointments are governed by Florida Statute Section 393.12.
- Any resident of this state who is not under any legal disability or the power of another and is 18 years of age or older is qualified to act as guardian of ward. Further qualifications can be found in Section 744.309, Florida Statutes
- This depends upon the type of guardianship that has been established and the nature of the ward’s incapacity or needs. Each guardianship is tailored by the Court in relation to the needs of the ward. A guardian can be appointed to watch over the ward, or the ward’s property, or both.
- A guardian is required to submit periodic reports regarding the condition of the ward and/or the ward's assets. The Clerk's Office is responsible for the initial review of these reports. After the reports are audited by the Clerk, they are taken to the general master for review, then to the presiding judge. If it appears that the guardian is not performing his or her duties properly, the court will take the necessary steps to protect the ward and/or the ward’s assets.