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Difference Between Guardianship And Conservatorship In Florida


Sometimes, people use the terms “guardianship” and “conservatorship” interchangeably. However, guardianship is not a title that is interchangeable with conservatorship in Florida. In Florida, guardianship is a legal process that is different from conservatorship.

But “What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?” you may wonder. Below, we look at the difference between these two legal processes.


A guardianship is a proceeding whereby a guardian is legally appointed to act on behalf of an incapacitated individual. In Florida, guardians are given the right to oversee an incapacitated individual’s physical and/or financial well-being if the Court determines that the individual is incapable of doing so on their own. Usually, a guardian has the right to, among other things, do the following on behalf of their ward (the incapacitated individual):

  • Pay bills
  • Manage assets
  • Manage medical care
  • Make decisions on schooling and housing
  • Pay tax returns
  • Invest money

It is crucial to note that after petitioning for guardianship in Florida, the Court will only appoint you as a guardian after it has determined that your loved one is truly incapacitated and incapable of handling their own personal and/or financial affairs. In Florida, the Court appoints a committee of three members (usually two physicians and a person who, by skill, knowledge training, or education, can form an expert opinion) to help with the determination of whether a person is incapacitated or not.

It is also vital to remember that guardianship can be limited guardianship. Generally, if it is determined that the incapacitated person is capable of making some decisions on their own, the Court will appoint a guardian, but will limit the decisions the guardian can make on behalf of their ward.


In Florida, a conservator is an individual appointed by the Court to manage the estate and property of someone who is considered an “absentee.” According to Florida law, an absentee is any Florida resident, or anyone who has property in Florida, who disappears under circumstances indicating they may have died or disappeared because of amnesia, mental derangement, or another mental cause. According to the same statute, an absentee is also any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Red Cross, or the Merchant Marine who;

  • Has been reported missing in action; or
  • Has been captured by the enemy; or
  • Has been detained or besieged in a neutral country.

Indeed, guardianship and conservatorship are two different legal processes. However, regardless of whether you want to be appointed as a guardian or conservator, it is vital that you remember the appointment of a person’s guardian or conservator in Florida is ultimately up to the Court. Additionally, whether you want to petition for guardianship or conservatorship, it is advisable that you retain the services of a skilled attorney. You need to follow a formal legal process when petitioning for guardianship or conservatorship, and this process can be complex.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Guardianship Attorney

If you need more information about guardianships and conservatorships in Florida or help with petitioning the court for the right to be a loved one’s guardian, feel free to contact our Fort Lauderdale guardianship attorney at the law offices of Joyce A. Julian, P.A.


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