Steps To Become A Professional Guardian
Becoming a guardian of another person is a serious matter because you are assuming legal responsibility for the well-being of that individual. You should carefully consider the responsibility, decide whether being a legal guardian is right for your situation, and ensure that you will be well prepared.
Florida statute defines who is a professional guardian.
Pursuant to Section 744.102(17), Fla. Stat, a professional guardian is any guardian who has at any time rendered services to three or more non-relative wards as their guardian. The court may not appoint any professional guardian who is not registered by the Office of Public and Professional Guardians pursuant to Section 744.2003(9), Fla. Stat.
The state registers professional guardians.
In Florida a professional guardian can be an adult and legal resident of the state. You will be required to successfully complete the state approved 40 hours of instruction and training course, which includes passing the in-course exam, and afterwards pass the statewide Florida Competency Guardianship Exam. Later, there will be additional continuing education requirements that will need to be maintained on a regular basis.
In order to register as a professional guardian, you will need to submit a comprehensive application to the Office of Public and Professional Guardians (OPPG), which is housed within the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. This will include a complete credit report every 2-years, undergo fingerprinting and pass a Level II criminal background screening, and obtaining an initial $50,000 blanket bond.
Once you are sure about pursuing this discipline, you need to find and register for the 40-hour course to start the process. The FSGA lists several courses offered throughout Florida on the Guardianship Training page. You can contact the instructors and providers directly for the details and information on the course dates. The courses are typically live in-person and inter-active.
The court appoints guardians.
Besides the OPPG, each of the 20 judicial circuit courts and the 67 Clerks of the Circuit Court throughout Florida may have their own requirements or procedures for you to register as a professional guardian in their jurisdiction. Please check with the respective Court Administration or Clerk of the Courts in the area where you intend to practice.
It’s important to also connect to your local community by networking with other professional guardians and attorneys. Local professionals may be helpful with mentoring and education. See our Chapters page “FSGA Chapters” and attend a local Chapter meeting. Once you are a state registered professional guardian, FSGA would like to offer you a free 1-year membership so please do not hesitate to contact us for the membership details.