(1) The executive director of the Statewide Public Guardianship Office, after consultation with the chief judge and other circuit judges within the judicial circuit and with appropriate advocacy groups and individuals and organizations who are knowledgeable about the needs of incapacitated persons, may establish, within a county in the judicial circuit or within the judicial circuit, one or more offices of public guardian and if so established, shall create a list of persons best qualified to serve as the public guardian, who have been investigated pursuant to s. 744.3135. The public guardian must have knowledge of the legal process and knowledge of social services available to meet the needs of incapacitated persons. The public guardian shall maintain a staff or contract with professionally qualified individuals to carry out the guardianship functions, including an attorney who has experience in probate areas and another person who has a master’s degree in social work, or a gerontologist, psychologist, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner. A public guardian that is a nonprofit corporate guardian under s. 744.309(5) must receive tax-exempt status from the United States Internal Revenue Service. (2) The executive director shall appoint or contract with a public guardian from the list of candidates described in subsection (1). A public guardian must meet the qualifications for a guardian as prescribed in s. 744.309(1)(a). Upon appointment of the public guardian, the executive director shall notify the chief judge of the judicial circuit and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, in writing, of the appointment.
(3) If the needs of the county or circuit do not require a full-time public guardian, a part-time public guardian may be appointed at reduced compensation.
(4) A public guardian, whether full-time or part-time, may not hold any position that would create a conflict of interest.
(5) The public guardian is to be appointed for a term of 4 years, after which her or his appointment must be reviewed by the executive director, and may be reappointed for a term of up to 4 years. The executive director may suspend a public guardian with or without the request of the chief judge. If a public guardian is suspended, the executive director shall appoint an acting public guardian as soon as possible to serve until such time as a permanent replacement is selected. A public guardian may be removed from office during the term of office only by the executive director who must consult with the chief judge prior to said removal. A recommendation of removal made by the chief judge must be considered by the executive director.
(6) Public guardians who have been previously appointed by a chief judge prior to the effective date of this act pursuant to this section may continue in their positions until the expiration of their term pursuant to their agreement. However, oversight of all public guardians shall transfer to the Statewide Public Guardianship Office upon the effective date of this act. The executive director of the Statewide Public Guardianship Office shall be responsible for all future appointments of public guardians pursuant to this act.