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Guardianship in Florida: Understanding the Drawbacks and Strategies for Avoidance

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2023 | Firm News


Guardianship is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a guardian to make decisions for an incapacitated individual. While it serves a crucial purpose in protecting vulnerable individuals, it comes with its own set of disadvantages. In this article, we’ll explore the cons of guardianship and provide strategies to avoid it in the state of Florida.

The Cons of Guardianship:

  1. Loss of Autonomy:
  • Decision-Making Power: When a guardian is appointed, the incapacitated individual loses the ability to make decisions about their own life, including financial, medical, and personal choices.

Potential for Conflict: Family members or other interested parties may have differing opinions on what’s best for the individual, leading to disputes and court involvement.

  1. Costly and Time-Consuming:
  • Legal Fees: Guardianship proceedings can be expensive, with legal fees, court costs, and ongoing guardian fees.

Delays: The process can be time-consuming, causing delays in critical decisions and asset management.

  1. Lack of Privacy:
  • Public Record: Guardianship proceedings are typically a matter of public record, which means that personal and financial details become accessible to the public.

Loss of Privacy: This lack of privacy can be uncomfortable for the individual and their family.

  1. Limited Asset Control:
  • Asset Restrictions: The court may impose limitations on how assets are managed and spent, potentially affecting the individual’s quality of life.

How to Avoid Guardianship in Florida:

  1. Advance Directives:
  • Durable Power of Attorney: Encourage your clients to create a durable power of attorney document, granting someone they trust the authority to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.

Healthcare Surrogate: Similarly, a healthcare surrogate designation allows an individual to appoint someone to make medical decisions if they cannot.

  1. Living Will:
  • Advance Healthcare Directive: A living will outlines an individual’s preferences regarding medical treatment in case they can’t communicate their wishes. This can help avoid disputes over medical decisions.
  1. Revocable Living Trust:
  • Asset Management: Suggest establishing a revocable living trust, which can hold assets and provide for a smooth transition of control to a successor trustee in case of incapacity, without the need for guardianship.
  1. Regular Estate Planning:
  • Will and Testament: Ensure your clients have a comprehensive will and testament in place to address asset distribution, guardianship of minor children, and other critical matters.


While guardianship is a necessary legal tool to protect incapacitated individuals, its drawbacks are significant. By proactively engaging in estate planning and creating advance directives, individuals in Florida can take steps to avoid guardianship and maintain control over their lives and assets even in challenging circumstances.

As an attorney, it’s essential to guide your clients through these options and ensure that their estate planning aligns with their goals and values, all while protecting their autonomy and interests.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult with a qualified attorney to address your specific estate planning needs and goals