Guardian for Minors

Guardian for Minors

Welcome.  There are two instances where a guardianship of a minor is needed.

Elder Law, Probate, wills, trusts

Whenever a child in Florida receives money in excess of $15,000.00 through an inheritance, lawsuit or life insurance policy, a guardianship of the property must be opened. Typically, one of the parents is appointed as guardian of the property, and is required to keep the money in a frozen account until the child reaches eighteen. The public policy behind this, is to make sure the money is not to used to pay for items that parents normally pay for, such as for food and clothes. Money for extraordinary needs such as braces or private schools for disability can be used, if the judge allows. In practice, this money is often saved for college or vocational expenses, and becomes available to the child at age eighteen.

A legal guardianship for minors is also required in the unfortunate instance when parents die or become incapacitated.  A person can be appointed as legal guardian over the “person” or “property” of a child or both.  A guardian of the property handles the money management and payment for the child’s needs during their minority. A guardian of the person is authorized to make decisions a parent normally makes. These decisions include where the child lives, what school they attend, which doctors they see, what sports they play, etc. If the parent has a Trust, the trustee is the person who handles the money management for the child. Sometimes the individual is guardian of both the property and person. Other times two guardians are appointed; one to carry out each job.

A guardianship proceeding is initiated by the proposed guardian and their attorney, by the filing of a petition for appointment as guardian of the child, an application, credit report, an Oath and other required documents. These documents are filed in the court, in the county where the child lives.

Then a hearing will be held for the proposed guardian to give testimony as to their qualifications to become guardian.

Copies of the petitions are required to be mailed to “interested persons” to notify them of the proceeding and give an opportunity to object. Interested persons might include the child’s grandparents, aunts and uncles or a non-involved parent. It is possible that more than one person will file a petition, requesting they be appointed as guardian. An example is when two sets of grandparents want to raise the child. In such a case, the Judge will have to make a determination as to which competing guardian applicant, will meet the child’s best interest. This contest can be avoided with the use of a pre-need guardian document. (See heading Pre-Need Guardian for Minors)

An appointed guardian, with the assistance of an attorney, must file annual reports with the court. This report addresses, how the child’s needs are being met, and how the child’s money is being used. These laws are designed to make sure the child is being properly cared for and their money is protected.