The person who agreed to serve as a guardian might eventually become unable or unwilling to perform that duty. In that situation, the law provides several different ways to change guardians.
Changing guardians is not as simple as another person agreeing to take on the responsibility. You have to follow a formal process and go through the court for appointment of the new guardian. A Florida estate planning attorney can advocate for you in guardianship cases and explain what happens if a general guardian changes their mind.
What Happens if the Current Guardian Just Wants Someone to Help with the Responsibilities?
Florida law allows for co-guardians, an arrangement in which two or more people get appointed by the court to serve as the guardians of an individual. Between themselves, they can split up the duties however they choose, for example, alternating the months in which the incapacitated person lives with them or taking turns filing annual reports to the court.
The process to add another guardian is straightforward. The party seeking to become a co-guardian will file a petition with the court. All interested parties must get served with the paperwork and have an opportunity to attend a hearing at which the judge will determine if it is in the best interests of the person who is the subject of the guardianship to have these two or more individuals serving as co-guardians.
How Do You Set Up a Successor Guardian?
The current guardian might not feel the need for a co-guardian at this time but would like to get their ducks in a row so that if the existing guardian becomes unable to continue serving, someone will already be appointed by the court to take the reins. There should always be a successor guardian waiting in the wings.
The procedure to appoint a successor guardian is the same as adding a co-guardian. The proposed successor guardian will file a petition with the court that has jurisdiction over the guardianship. All interested parties must get served with the papers and have the opportunity to attend the hearing.
Can a Guardian Resign?
Yes. A person does not receive a lifetime appointment to serve as a guardian. At any time, the guardian can decide that they no longer wish to be a guardian.
This situation often happens when the guardian or ward moves, and the new location is at a distance that makes it impractical for the person to perform their duties as guardian. Other life events can make it inconvenient to continue in the position of guardian, like getting diagnosed with a severe health condition.
Whatever the reason, the guardian will need to file a petition to resign. Ideally, another person will file a petition for appointment of guardian and offer to serve as the replacement guardian. The court will have to hold a hearing and approve of the new guardian. Sometimes a public guardian will serve as a replacement.
Can a Guardian Get Forcibly Removed?
Yes. Anyone can file a petition for removal of a guardian if they think that person is no longer capable of doing the job or is not doing the job appropriately. Neglect and abuse are common grounds for removal, as well as using the funds of the incapacitated person for the betterment of the guardian.
A Florida estate planning attorney could help you navigate through the hearings and pleadings involved in cases that involve a change of guardian. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.