Are you seeking to protect an incapacitated loved one? Whether it’s a child with a developmental disability or an adult experiencing cognitive decline, we understand your concerns and challenges. Guardianship is a powerful tool for minor children and incapacitated adults that can ensure their safety and well-being.
But how do you go about establishing guardianship in Florida?
This blog provides comprehensive insight from a guardianship lawyer about legal guardianship, legal and welfare decisions, what’s involved in the legal process of establishing guardianship, what you can expect from guardianship proceedings, and the various types of guardianship under Florida law.
As an experienced Miami guardianship attorney, I help family members and caregivers of disabled children and incapacitated adults by guiding them through the guardianship process. Continue reading to learn more, then call us at (305) 402-4494 to schedule your free 20-minute strategy session.
How Does Florida Law Define Guardianship?
In Florida, guardianship pertains to the legal responsibility of managing the affairs of an individual incapable of handling their own matters. The court typically orders guardianship for an individual referred to as a “ward” of the court. As a legal guardian, you receive the authority to make decisions on various aspects of the ward’s daily life when they cannot make their own decisions.
Because they are ethically and legally bound, guardians must act in the best interest of the ward when making welfare decisions.
In guardianship, the ward loses or relinquishes some or all of their civil rights, depending upon what the court deems to be in their best interests. The appointed guardian assumes legal rights to manage the ward’s care and handle legal matters, financial decisions, healthcare decisions, and other vital matters for the person, whether an adult ward or a child.
If you’re considering guardianship after determining there are no other viable options for an incapacitated adult or minor children, understanding the types of guardianship and their purpose is crucial. As an experienced guardianship attorney can attest, the guardianship must be specific to the needs and abilities of the person when less restrictive alternatives do not apply to the situation.
Guardianship Process and Legal Proceedings
The Florida court system recognizes the importance of personal autonomy but also acknowledges the need to prioritize safety and well-being. In certain cases, it may relinquish a person’s civil rights for their protection. In such instances, the court has the authority to establish guardianship over a person’s property, their personal affairs, or both.
To obtain guardianship over an adult, you must first initiate a mental health matter to assess the capacity of the alleged incapacitated person. The court will appoint an examining committee to evaluate the individual. If the court determines it’s in the person’s best interest to remove some or all rights and designate a guardian, an incapacity hearing will take place to review the committee’s findings. Ultimately, the judge determines which legal rights, if any, should be removed and appoints a legal guardian.
If your child has a developmental disability, you might need to petition the court to become a guardian advocate when he or she turns 18. Unlike traditional guardianship, you do not have to prove that your loved one is incapacitated. However, you must demonstrate that he or she was diagnosed with a developmental disability before age 18.
If the judge grants your petition, they will create an order that details your responsibilities. Then, you can continue to support your child into adulthood.
What Does An Appointed Guardian Do?
A guardian holds the authority to make decisions for an incapacitated individual while also managing their personal affairs. The duties of a guardian may involve the following:
- Organizing regular health care appointments
- Preparing for future medical requirements
- Overseeing personal care, including maintaining household and hygiene
- Managing finances, such as bill payments
- Managing legal paperwork, such as entering into contractual agreements
Types of Guardianships
The court can award a range of guardianships, including:
- Limited Guardianship – When the court finds that a person is not completely incapacitated, it has the power to grant them more control over decision-making. In a Limited Guardianship, the incapacitated person may still make decisions in specific areas where they have the capability, while the guardian takes care of other areas where capacity is lacking.
- Plenary Guardianship – Plenary Guardianship is a comprehensive measure for a completely incapacitated individual. In such cases, the court grants the guardian absolute authority over all aspects of the person’s life, including their legal rights.
- Guardian Advocacy – You can gain legal authority to act on behalf of a loved one with a developmental disability through Guardian Advocacy, which empowers parents, family members, or friends to make important decisions for individuals in need.
- Pre-Need Guardian – A Designation of Pre-Need Guardianship allows a person to select an individual they would like to care for them if they become incapacitated.
- Minor Guardianship – Minor Guardianship applies in two common situations. First, when a child loses one or both parents or if the state determines the parents are unfit, a guardian is necessary. Second, by law, a minor child must also have a guardian when they receive a significant inheritance, lawsuit settlement, or insurance policy payout. When a child’s biological parents are no longer alive or deemed unfit to care for them, the Florida guardianship courts have the authority to appoint a guardian responsible for the child’s well-being and assets. As in the case of incapacitated individuals, the courts prioritize family members when appointing a guardian for a child.
Denise Jomarron Legal Group: Your Miami Guardianship Attorney
Have you been searching online for “guardianship attorneys near me?” When considering such a life-altering decision, consulting an experienced guardianship attorney who can provide guidance is one of the best things you can do. As a Miami guardianship lawyer who has worked with countless clients, it’s my honor to help a family member or caregiver with the process of becoming a legal guardian. You need someone who can offer compassion and knowledgeable legal counsel to understand your options and make the best possible decisions for you and your loved ones. Contact us at (305) 402-4494 or complete our online form to schedule a free 20-minute strategy session with a guardianship lawyer.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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4300 Biscayne Blvd Ste 305
Miami, FL 33137-3255