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Guardian Duties: How To Serve Responsibly

Help For The Court Appointed Guardian of the Property in Florida

 

consumer financial protection bureau logo for guardian role article The Guide From the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is for family and friends serving as a guardian to help you understand what you can and cannot do in your role as a guardian. In that role, you are a fiduciary who is anyone named to manage money or property for someone else. You’ll find brief tips to help you avoid problems and resources for finding more information.

The CFPB’s Office for Older Americans is the only federal office dedicated to the financial health of Americans age 62 and over. Along with other agencies, the Office works to support sound financial decision-making and to prevent financial exploitation of older adults. To help people (including family members) with legal authority to handle an older person’s money, the Office contracted and worked closely with the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging (ABA Commission) and state professionals to prepare this guide.

The Miller Elder Law Firm’s Shannon Miller was among a group of Florida attorneys that worked on this guide.

What is a Guardian of the Property?

A guardian of the property is someone the court names to manage money and property for someone else whom the court has found cannot manage it alone. Sometimes a guardian of the property is also appointed as guardian of the person however, this guide only covers duties of the guardian of the property.

4 Duties of The Guardian of the Property

  1. Always act in the person’s best interest.  Best practices include hiring an attorney for advice on how to act as a guardian, taking the required 8 hour course to prepare you, know the court order and fulfill it completely, involve the person for whom you are serving in decisions, don’t mix monies in your account, adhere to the guardianship plan
  2. Manage the money and property carefully. Make an inventory of things owned and owed, file with the court, purchase a bond, protect the property, make a financial plan, invest carefully, pay bills and collect debts, keep the home safe
  3. Keep the money and property separate from yourself and others.  Never mix monies or pay bills out of your account, avoid joint accounts, know how to sign as a guardian, keep titles in the person’s name.
  4. Keep good records and report to the court. Keep a detailed report, keep all receipts, avoid paying in cash, and file your accounting with the court.

What You Should You Know About Working With Professionals?

In managing Martin’s affairs, you may need help from professionals such as lawyers, brokers, financial advisors, accountants, real estate agents, appraisers, psychologists, social workers, doctors, nurses, or care managers. You can pay them with Martin’s money. If you need help from any professionals, remember these tips:

  • Check on the professional’s qualifications. Many professionals must be licensed or registered by a government agency. Check credentials with the government agency. Make sure the license or registration is current and the professional is in good standing. Check the person’s complaint history.
  • Interview the professional thoroughly and ask questions.
  • Review contracts carefully before signing. Before hiring any professionals, get their proposed plan of work and expected fee.
  • Make your own decisions based on facts and advice. Listen to their advice but remember you are the decision-maker.

You may read the complete guide here. The guide does not give you legal advice. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about your duties.

At The Miller Elder Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of guardians and their families to provide appropriate, legal, and safe guardianships.  We can help you.  Contact us at 352-379-1900 or complete the form below and we will contact you.