At some point in your life, you may need to establish guardianship of a loved one, which will allow you to handle that loved one’s affairs for them.

Whether you need to establish guardianship of a child, or of an aging parent struggling with mental acuity, the process is the same. Once that process is completed, that loved one will become a “ward of the court” and you will be their legal guardian.

Make sure you qualify for guardianship in the state of Florida

The state of Florida has a few requirements that you must meet before establishing guardianship. If you are a Florida resident, you must be over the age of 18.

If you are not a Florida resident, you must be over the age of 18 and meet one of the requirements listed below:

  • Related to your loved one by direct descent (and ascent), such as your grandchild or father
  • An adopted child of your loved one, or an adoptive parent
  • Related to your loved one by what is called lineal consanguinity, which means that you are a spouse or blood relative
  • The spouse of any of the qualified persons listed above

The final requirement is that you have no felony convictions on your record.

File the required documents

There are three documents that you must file in order to establish guardianship.

The first is the Petition to Determine Incapacity. Once you file this petition, the court will appoint medical professionals to meet with your loved one and determine whether or not he is incapacitated.

The second is the Petition for Appointment of Guardian, which is simply a request to the court to appoint a guardian for your loved one.

And finally, you need to file an Application for Appointment as Guardian. This document is a request to the court to appoint you as that guardian.

Once you are approved as guardian

Once you are appointed as guardian of your loved one, you will be required to complete an educational course for guardians. This course helps to clarify your duties and responsibilities as a guardian, define the rights of your loved one as a ward of the court, and give you information regarding resources that may be available.

As a guardian, you will also have to submit to criminal background checks.

Becoming a guardian of a loved one is a big responsibility, but often a necessary one. Follow the steps outlined above and your path to guardianship will be a smooth one.