Some residents of Miami-Dade or Broward County may currently serve as guardian for a ward or may become an appointed guardian in the future. A ward means a person for whom a guardian has been appointed. A person may need a guardian because they become incapacitated or because they are a minor. The responsibilities of a guardian will vary depending on the ward’s needs. A guardian is defined in the Florida Statutes Section 744.102 defines a guardian as a person who has been appointed by the court to act on behalf of a ward’s person or property, or both. A guardian for a ward can live close by or in a different location. For example, if a Miami-Dade County resident becomes incapacitated, their guardian may reside in the same county, in another county in Florida such as Palm Beach County, or even in another state.
Often after someone is appointed guardian they will have questions about their responsibilities and compensation. Florida Statute Section 744.108 specifically addresses the issue of fees for guardians. The statute allows for a reasonable fee for services rendered and reimbursement for costs incurred on behalf of the ward. The court will take into account different factors including the time and labor required, the difficulty of the questions involved, the fee customarily charged in the area for similar services, the amount of income earned by the estate, and the responsibilities and potential liabilities assumed by the guardian. The court will also consider the nature and length of the relationship with the incapacitated person, the experience, reputation, diligence, and the abilities of the person performing the service. Therefore it is highly important for a guardian to keep accurate records of costs associated with the guardianship responsibilities.
In the recent Florida court case Thorpe v. Meyers, the court clarified the right for guardianship fees. The court described that on occasion, usually when a family member is appointed, a guardian may agree to serve without compensation. But that is an exception to the requirement that guardians can receive compensation for their services.
Under the statute, a guardian is not required to demonstrate that his or her services benefited the ward or the ward’s estate in order to receive compensation. The court found that the statute appears to presuppose that a guardian’s services benefit the ward or the ward’s estate. If you are a guardian and spend time on behalf of a ward, it is important to keep accurate time records and it is important then that you request compensation from the court. If you or someone you know lives in the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale or Miami-Dade area and is a guardian or may become a guardian, the experienced attorneys at Chepenik Trushin will help with these and other litigation needs. Please feel free to contact us for an initial consultation.
Florida Statutes (2011)
Thorpe v. Myers, 67 So. 3d 338, 343 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2011)