Being a guardian for a loved one is an extremely demanding, and at times, thankless position. One of the most difficult aspects is making sure that the person over which the guardianship is established (the “ward”) has adequate resources available to meet his or her needs. If the ward is fortunate enough to own real property in the State of Florida, oftentimes that property will need to be sold to pay for the ward’s care.
Unfortunately, many out-of-state guardians (sometimes called conservators) find themselves in a difficult position of not being able to sell the ward’s real property in Florida, even if they have an order allowing the sale from their home state. Florida courts have exclusive jurisdiction over real property in the State of Florida, and orders from out-of-state (foreign) jurisdictions do not allow the guardian to convey good title. This can be a frustrating process as the guardian may find out after months of waiting for motions from the court in the home state to approve the sale and numerous communications with real estate agents to secure the best terms for the ward.
Rather than start a whole new guardianship in Florida, the Florida legislature allows an abbreviated version of the guardianship process under Section 744.307, Florida Statutes. Under this statute, a foreign guardian may be appointed for the sole task of managing real property. After the property is sold, the Florida guardianship will be terminated. This requires getting authenticated copies of documents from the foreign guardianship that are necessary to have the Florida court bypass normal guardianship requirements.
Without a Florida court approving sale of real property, the guardian cannot convey good title. Title companies and real estate agents should ensure at the beginning of any transaction involving a foreign guardianship that the seller is aware of the requirements in Florida and have the guardian immediately consult with a Florida attorney. If consultation with the Florida attorney does not begin at the outset of negotiations, the guardian may be in breach of the sale contract as they may have an obligation to convey the property, but be unable to do so.
If you have a foreign guardianship that requires the sale of real property in Florida, the Farr Law Firm is available to help you navigate the legal landscape to successfully close the deal.
This newsletter is for general information and education purposes only.
It is not offered as legal advice or legal opinion.
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