Can I Ask for Compensation If I Serve as My Parent’s Legal Guardian?
When an adult is considered mentally or physically incapacitated, a Florida judge may establish a guardianship. The guardian is a person who makes financial and/or personal decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult, who is known as the ward. By law, the guardian is entitled to “a reasonable fee for services rendered and reimbursement for costs incurred on behalf of the ward.”
In some cases, the guardian is a professional with no preexisting ties to the ward. But the guardian may also be a close family member of the ward, such as a spouse or child. One question we often get is, “Can I still ask for guardianship fees if I’m related to the ward?”
The simple answer is yes. Nothing in Florida law bars a guardian from seeking or accepting fees just because they are a relative of the ward. This question actually came up in a recent decision from the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals, Jones v. In Re: Guardianship of William Edward Jones. In this case, a daughter served as guardian for her father. The daughter requested compensation from a judge in Orange County.
The judge denied the request, stating the daughter had “an obligation to provide such services for the ward without compensation due to the father/daughter familial relationship between the Ward and the guardian.” The Fifth District said that was an incorrect statement of the law. While it is true a guardian cannot demand compensation for “merely doing what any family member would do for their relative under the circumstances,” they can still ask for compensation for providing services “within the scope of his or her duties as guardian.”
The Fifth District therefore directed the judge in Orange County to determine what services performed by the daughter in this case “would reasonably be performed by a professional or other non-family member guardian” and award her appropriate compensation.
Contact a Florida Guardianship Lawyer If You Have Additional Questions
So how does a Florida judge decide what is “reasonable” compensation for a guardian? Section 744.108 of the Florida Statutes sets forth a number of factors the court must consider, including the “time and labor” spent by the guardian, the “novelty and difficulty” of any matters related to the guardianship, and the “fee customarily charged in the locality for similar services.” In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to guardianship compensation, and a judge will need to examine each guardianship on the merits.
It is also important to note that a guardian does not have to ask for compensation. If you are serving as a guardian for a family member, you may not wish to seek compensation, especially if the ward does not have much in the way of property. But you also need not feel it is inappropriate or contrary to law to ask for reasonable compensation, especially if the work you perform goes beyond what you would normally do for a family member.
If you would like to speak with an experienced Fort Myers guardianship attorney on any matter related to the creation or administration of a guardianship, please contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free consultation.