The legal definition of a guardian is exactly what it sounds like. This is an individual who cares for another person and makes decisions on that person’s behalf. Guardians are sometimes appointed by a court and sometimes they are named in estate planning documentation, like powers of attorney, before they are needed.
Before you choose to designate a guardian in estate planning paperwork, it is important to know a little bit about the kinds of decisions your guardian might one day make on your behalf. For example, your guardian might make decisions about your medical treatment and care in the event that you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself. A guardian might also arrange for the purchase of different life necessities like food, cars, clothes, household items and personal items.
If the person being cared for requires education, the guardian might make decisions about schooling. He or she might also make financial or banking decisions on behalf of the person being cared for.
When Florida residents are capable of choosing their guardian, they usually choose their spouses or parents. They might also choose another relative. In some cases, a private person who knows the individual requiring care or a state employee designated by the court might serve as guardian over an incapacitated person’s affairs.
Because Florida residents will no longer be able to choose their guardians after becoming incapacitated, it is extremely important from an estate planning perspective to designate your guardian now, and complete the necessary powers of attorney and other estate planning documents related to the task immediately, rather than waiting until it is too late.
Source: FindLaw, “Guardianship basics” accessed Jan. 16, 2015