The Osceola Council on Aging has served as the Public Guardian for Osceola County since 1998
What is Guardianship?

More often than not, Guardianship is mistaken as Guardian Ad Litem, however these are two separate programs. Guardianship entails the process of designating a party to exercise legal rights for another individual. This individual must lack the ability to make decisions on their own accord to qualify for the need of a guardian.

What is Public Guardianship?

The Public Guardianship Office acts as guardian for those deemed incapacitated by the courts and do not have a qualified family member or friend to act in this capacity. The Public Guardianship Office provides these services to individuals who lack the financial resources to hire a private guardian.

Smiling young female caregiver holding hands and talking with senior woman in living room
Doctor takes care of elderly as a patient in consultation or home visit
How is A Guardian Appointed?

The first step in the guardianship process commences with a petition of incapacity filed with the probate office at the courthouse. This petition states the need of the alleged incapacitated individual to be evaluated for capacity.

Once a petition is received, the court system will appoint three Examining Committee Members to evaluate the alleged incapacitated individual. Each Examining Committee Member evaluates the alleged incapacitated person on an individual level, then submits a report to the court system. In their report, the Examining Committee Members use their expert opinion to recommend a Plenary Guardian, a Limited Guardian, or that the alleged incapacitated are competent and do not need a guardian at all. During this time, the court systems provides an attorney for the alleged incapacitated person.  At a final hearing later, the Judge will decide if the individual is incapacitated or not, and their need of a guardian.

How can guardianship be avoided?

Proper planning and advance directives lower the odds of ever needing a Guardian. While still maintaining all faculties, some directive options to put in place include a living will, durable power of attorney and a health care surrogate. Doing this early allows seniors to choose who they would want to run their affairs or make healthcare decisions for themselves, if the need arises.

  • Living Will: A legal document that outlines one’s medical wishes regarding lifesaving treatments along with end of life wishes.
  • Health Care Surrogate: An adult designated by you to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are in a situation where you are unable to make them for yourself. You should make sure to discuss your wishes with this person beforehand so that they could make those decisions you would have wanted to make for yourself.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document in which you designate a trusted adult legal authority to act on your behalf and make financial decisions. This document could also designate a Health Care Surrogate. The Durable Power of Attorney could be limited or as broad as you like. Unlike a Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney remains in effect even after you have been deemed incapacitated.
Nurse taking care of elderly woman on wheelchair
Nurse helping elderly disabled man outdoor
Types of Guardianships the Osceola County Office of Public Guardianship handles:
  • Plenary Guardianship: This guardian is appointed to exercise all of the rights and powers of the Ward.
  • Limited Guardianship: This guardian is appointed to exercise certain rights and powers on behalf of the Ward. The Ward retains limited rights.
Criteria to qualify for the Public Guardianship program:
  • The alleged incapacitated person does not have any family members or friends, either willing or qualified, to act as guardian
  • The alleged incapacitated person does not have sufficient income or assets to afford a private guardian. To qualify, this person must be determined impoverished under the Medicaid guidelines.

For more information on Guardianship call 407-402-9474