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Guardianship is the process to protect and exercise the legal rights of individuals whose functional limitations prevent them from being able to make their own decisions.  Guardianships are established for persons for various reasons; such as an adult who lacks the ability to care for him/herself in some aspect, a minor who has received an inheritance, or a minor who has received a settlement for a personal injury claim. These certainly are not the only reasons that guardianships are established, but the majority of guardianships in Hamilton County have arisen for needs such as these.

A function of the Guardianship division of the Hamilton County Clerk's Office is to audit and monitor the guardianship files active in Hamilton County. We will do our very best to assist the public in any way that we can. However, please be advised that our capacity does not permit us to give out legal advice or guidance in completing the various guardianship reports that are required.

As some guardianships require the filing of a Verified Inventory of Guardian of the Property or an Annual Accounting of the Guardian of the Property, our office charges an audit fee for these reports.

Are guardianships established for the elderly only? 

Guardianships can be established for adults of all ages and are also established for minors in several situations. For example, if a minor has received a settlement greater than $15,000, a guardian of his or her property must be appointed. There are also instances where family members, such as grandparents, are appointed as guardians when the parents of the minor are unwilling or unable to care for the minor child.

What steps can I take if I know an individual that is incapable of caring for themselves and needs a guardian? 

The first step is to contact an attorney. The Clerk's office may not give legal advice or guidance in completing the various guardianship forms and reports that are required. If you are able and qualified to serve as guardian, you may petition to be appointed guardian, through an attorney. If you do not wish to be appointed guardian, it is possible that a professional guardian may be appointed.

Guardianship Qualifications 

Any resident of this state who is not under any legal disability or the power of another and is 18 years of age or older is qualified to act as guardian of a ward. Further qualifications can be found in Section 744.309 of the Florida Statutes.

Types of Guardianships 

1.     Guardianship of Person

2. Guardianship of Property