Guardianship vs. Conservatorship in Florida

With the ongoing battle of Britney Spears’ Conservatorship in California flooding social media these days, we thought we would discuss the difference between Guardianships and Conservatorships in the state of Florida, as these two things deal with completely different situations and are not used interchangeably.

When an adult is found to be incapable of managing their financial affairs, due to mental illness, incapacitation, or any other reason, family members or other parties may petition a Florida court for control over the allegedly incapacitated individual’s finances.

In Florida, this legal process for control is referred to as pursuing a Guardianship. Whereas in California, it is called a Conservatorship, as seen in Britney Spears’ case.


In Florida, a Guardianship grants a legal guardian the right to make decisions on behalf of an individual’s financial and physical well-being, only if it is determined that an individual is unable to do so themselves. The guardian, if granted control, may be involved in the following for the individual:

  • Managing assets
  • Creating or managing a Special Needs Trust
  • Paying bills
  • Managing benefits such as SSI and Medicaid
  • Managing healthcare and conversations with medical professionals
  • Preparing tax returns
  • And more

There is another sub-type of guardianship, that is governed by a different section of Florida’s statute for individuals with a developmental disability; this is known as a guardian advocate.


In most other states, a conservator is someone who is granted control only over an incapacitated adult’s financial decisions. This person does not have to be the same person who has been appointed as legal guardian of the incapacitated individual.

In Florida, however, a Conservator is someone who is appointed by the court to manage the affairs of someone considered to be an “absentee”, whether they have gone missing or have been presumed dead.

Ending note

Regardless of the situation, seeking appointment of a Guardian or a Conservator is something that is done completely by the court system. It is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney intimately familiar with these proceedings, as a formal legal process must be followed in either scenario.

If you have questions about guardianships or conservatorships in Florida, attorney Mark F. Moss can help you understand what options you have available. To arrange a confidential consultation over the phone or in person in Jacksonville, please call 904-329-7242 or inquire online today.

*Disclaimer: Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only. It is best to speak with an attorney about your specific situation, questions, assets, concerns, and needs.