How to Navigate the Challenges of State Appointed Guardianship in Florida

My mother named me as her preneed guardian in her advanced directives. Because I had recently moved and changed my phone number, I was not immediately reachable when the state of Florida determined my mother needed a guardian. Three months had passed when I first learned of my mother’s incapacity, and the court denied my efforts to remove the authority of the state-appointed guardian. The state argued that I was adversarial and noncooperative with the state-appointed guardian. Q: How can a state take away the authority of a designated preneed guardian and favor a state-appointed guardian over the incapacitated person’s first choice named in legally prepared documents? 

A: In Florida, the court may appoint a state-appointed guardian regardless of whether a suitable family member is designated within legal documents, namely, a declaration of preneed guardian, or if the family dynamics are unfavorable. If you believe that the state-appointed guardian is acting against the best interests of your loved one or denying you access to visitation, there are steps you can take. Opening constructive communication is critical to resolving conflicts and addressing misunderstandings. Let’s examine two hypothetical cases that highlight common challenges faced by individuals seeking to regain control as guardians.  

Case 1: Overruling Preneed Guardian Appointment:

Sometimes, the court may appoint a state guardian instead of a family member designated as a preneed guardian in an individual’s advance directives. This decision can occur if the court determines that the preneed guardian cannot fulfill their duties or is deemed unsuitable for the role. While this can be distressing for family members, it is important to understand why the court appoints a state guardian and to ensure someone considers the incapacitated individual’s best interests. 

Case 2: Adversarial Relations with the State-Appointed Guardian:

An adversarial situation between a family member and a state-appointed guardian can create significant challenges. Building a cooperative relationship with the guardian is essential to maintaining contact with your loved one. Demonstrating a willingness to collaborate, providing necessary information, and respectfully expressing concerns may help improve the situation.

Dealing with a situation where the court appoints a state-appointed guardian over a family member can be emotionally challenging. However, by understanding the court’s perspective, seeking legal counsel, and advocating for your rights, you can take steps towards gaining control over the guardianship. Open and respectful communication with the state-appointed guardian is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship and ensuring the well-being of your loved one. Remember that navigating challenging guardianship situations in Florida is possible with patience, perseverance, and appropriate legal guidance.

Contact an attorney experienced in guardianship and conservatorship law before you give up any right to become the guardian of a loved one whose well-being a state-appointed guardian manages.


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Written by Kristen Jackson

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