Since we have been discussing guardians in Florida lately, we thought we would take a little time to discuss how you can choose a guardian in some situations. Like many other estate planning issues, the questions that courts face when they determine guardianship issues can be addressed in advance by people who take the time to create the proper tools. Particularly, parents with young children and people who are worried about having a guardian manage their affairs in the event they become incapacitated can’t take steps while they are able that will control the court’s decision, or at least influence it, if and when it comes time for court to get involved. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you can do to choose a guardian in Florida.
Choose a Guardian for Your Children
When parents of young children in Florida create an estate plan, one of the big issues they need to consider is who they want to take over caring for their child in the event one or both of the parents die or becomes unable to make choices or communicate.
Let’s take, as an example, a situation in which a married couple is raising a young child. Let’s say the couple is involved in a serious car accident. One spouse dies, but the other is less seriously injured and unable to communicate. Who cares for the child? Who makes decisions about the child’s health care, finances, and day-to-day living arrangements?
If the parents had, either individually or jointly, created a last will and testament, they would likely have chosen a guardian to take over child-rearing responsibilities and name their choice in the will. As long as the will is properly drafted, and as long as chosen guardian is suitable, a Florida court will recognize the parental choice and name the selection as the child’s guardian.
On the other hand, if the parents die without leaving behind a last will and testament the court will have to determine on its own who best to care for the child.
Choose a Guardian for Yourself
When you are creating an estate plan you will also have the ability to name someone, or multiple people, who will be able to look after your own affairs if and when you become incapacitated. There are a variety of tools that allow you to do this, and which effectively give you the ability to choose your own guardian. These include, for example, durable powers of attorney for finances and advance directives for health care. As long as you create these tools properly and choose someone who is capable of making decisions you can select whomever you like to have authority to make decisions on your behalf, or manage your affairs, should you lose your abilities or capacities.
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