A couple months ago we looked at a variety of questions surrounding guardians in Florida, but we wanted to revisit the topic to discuss it in light of the question of aging parents and the children who are worried about them. Florida is home to many senior citizens, and a lot of children of aging parents are concerned about the options they have if and when their parents need assistance. In particular, having someone serve as a guardian for their aging parents is often a key question when adult children talk to us about their concerns. Today we are going to take a look at some commonly asked questions surrounding aging parents and guardians in Florida, and the issues you may need to think about.
When does an aging parent need a guardian?
There is often no clear answer to this question, and no single answer that fits all situations. Generally speaking, only a Florida court can determine if an adult requires a guardian to make decisions on his or her behalf. When making its determination, the court will typically consult with experts such as doctors, health care personnel, psychiatrists, or others who have expertise on determining whether someone needs assistance or can no longer make his or her own decisions.
Can I decide to become my parent’s guardian?
Not really. While you do have the ability to petition a Florida court and ask it to determine if a guardianship is necessary, you do not have the ability to control the court’s decision on who the guardian is, or even whether a guardian should be making decisions on behalf of an aging parent. Again, it’s a court’s responsibility to make guardianship determinations. You, as the child of an aging adult, will have some ability to influence the court’s decision, or at last ask it to make a specific decision, but the final decision will always be up to the court itself.
Can my aging parents do anything about guardians?
Possibly. If your parents choose to act before they lose capacity they can create one or more pre-need directives. These directives include, for example, durable powers of attorney, living trusts, as well as advance medical directives. All of these documents allow people to choose who they want to serve as their representative if and when they ever need someone to make decisions on their behalf.
However, it’s important to note that once a parent loses his or her ability to make choices, that parent is no longer able to make these directives. Once a loss of capacity has taken place, it falls to a Florida court to determine not only whether or not the adult needs a guardian, but what kind of guardian that person needs, and who should serve in the role.