The Basics of Guardianship
In Florida, there are two kinds of guardianships. One guardianship is for adults, and one guardianship is for children or minors. (In Florida, a minor is anyone who is under 18 years of age. (Florida Statutes, Section 743.07)).
What is a Guardianship?
A guardianship is a legal proceeding whereby a Florida court appoints a person or an entity to act as another person’s (the “ward’s”) guardian. Once appointed, the guardian acts on behalf of the ward to ensure the ward’s property is inventoried, invested appropriately, and used to maintain care for the ward.
Guardianship for an Adult
For adults, there are commonly two types of guardianships. The basic guardianship is for adults who have become incapacitated so that they can no longer make decisions for their own interest. The other type of guardianship is called a guardianship advocate. A guardianship advocate is for developmentally disabled adults.
If an adult has been rendered incapacitated and does not have the mental wherewithal to care for him- or herself, a person may file a petition with the Florida court to request a guardian be appointed on behalf of the ward (the incapacitated person). In the case of an incapacitated adult, the ward will be automatically evaluated by a panel of health care professionals to determine the ward’s mental capabilities and level of incapacitation. (Florida Statutes, Section 744.331).
In the case of an adult who is developmentally disabled, there is no need for the ward to be examined by the panel of health care professionals.
Guardians may be appointed to be guardians of the property only, of the person only, or for both the property and the person.
Guardianship for a Minor
When a minor has inherited $15,000.00 or more or has received $15,000.00 or more as the result of a legal settlement, then a guardian may be appointed to ensure the money or property is invested or dispersed in the best interests of the child. If the child’s parent or parents are living, then a guardian for the property is all that is needed, as the child’s parent(s) may still make legal decisions on behalf of the child. And, in fact, sometimes the child’s parent(s) may be appointed as the child’s guardian(s). If the child’s parents are deceased, then a guardian of the child, not just of the property, would be required.
An Attorney is Required
For all guardianships, whether for an adult or a minor, the person making the application for such guardianship must be represented by an attorney. (Florida Probate Rule 5.030).
Speak with an Experienced Guardianship Attorney Now
If you are in a situation where a family member needs a guardian, you should speak with an experienced guardianship law attorney. Because you are required to have an attorney to file a guardianship petition, and in order to know all of your rights and responsibilities, you should contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. in Tampa to ensure that your guardianship matter is handled professionally and ethically. A guardianship is a legally intricate process that is required to be handled by an attorney.