Guardianship in Florida

Guardianship is a process utilized when someone is unable to make decisions or satisfy their own needs due to mental decline, illness or age. A court will appoint a guardian who will be held responsible for making sure the legal and personal needs of the incapacitated person, known as a ward, are met. Establishing a guardianship can be quite complex and confusing but the Gainesville family law lawyers at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates can walk you through the process.

Types of Guardianship 

There are a variety of reasons that result in the necessity of a legal guardianship. One of our family law attorneys in Gainesville can help you determine which type you should apply for in court.

Adult Guardianships

Because of the significant mental and physical impact that aging has on our bodies, loved ones may be unable to continue taking care of themselves. If your friend or family member has prepared for this scenario, he or she may have set up advanced directives or a living trust. In this case, a guardianship is not necessary. If your loved one has not taken these precautions, guardianship attorneys in Gainesville, FL, can assist you in setting up a guardianship and answering any questions you may have.

Minor Guardianships

There are two main types of minor guardianships. The first is known as guardianship of property of a minor. Guardians will be responsible for managing the estate, property and any wrongful death or personal injury claims. The second is guardianship of property of a minor. In the event that the minor’s parents die or become incapacitated, the guardian will assume care of the child.

Incapacitated Adult Guardianships

Children with developmental disabilities are taken care of by their parents, who are able to make all legal and financial decisions for them. Once the minor turns 18 years old, the parents will need to prove in court that the ward is still unable to make decisions or provide for themselves.

Establishing Guardianship with the Assistance of a Family Lawye

In order to appoint a guardian, the court must first be convinced that the ward is incapacitated. After you have provided the court with evidence that the ward is unable to make legal and financial decisions, a judge will appoint a committee who will be responsible for assessing the situation. The committee will consist of three specialists. One must be either a psychologist or psychiatrist while the other two can be a registered nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or social worker. This committee will provide the judge with written reports while the judge appoints a family attorney to defend the supposed incapacitated person. If the judge determines that they are, a hearing will be set for a later date to determine who the guardian will be for the ward. If not, the case will be dismissed.

Responsibilities of a Guardian

Depending on the type of guardianship, guardians have a set of legal responsibilities and expectations. For guardians of a person, guardians will decide where the ward will live and provide emotional, financial and medical support. Guardians of property are responsible for taking inventory of the estate, investing or selling the property and using the proceeds to support the ward. To ensure that wards are being adequately cared for, guardians will need to regularly report how funds are being used. If it becomes evident that the guardian is acting without regard for their ward, the court will appoint a different guardian. If you have any questions about the responsibilities of a guardian, ask our Gainesville family court lawyers.

Guardianship Law Firm in Gainesville, FL

When it comes to your loved ones, you want to ensure that they are well taken care of. If you suspect that they may need a guardian, make sure that you find legal consultation that will make the process simple and have your best interest in mind. Though there are many Gainesville family law firms, the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates understands the difficult time your family is going through. We combine our compassion and tireless efforts to make sure your loved ones are okay. Contact our office today for help with the guardianship process.

Florida Guardianship FAQs

What are some differences between a Guardianship and a Guardian Advocacy?

A ward is someone who is unable to handle his/her person or property independently due to mental incapacities. To assist a ward with these crucial functionings, a Guardian may be appointed. The Guardian is responsible for handling the ward’s needs, such as making decisions for the ward’s property, business and personal care. A Guardian may be appointed to a ward or any other type of dependent individual, such as a minor child.

A Guardian Advocacy also enables an individual to make health, financial, personal and business decisions on the behalf of a ward. However, Guardian Advocacy is reserved for wards who suffer from a severe handicap or impairment.

Why should I invest in a Pre-Need Guardian?

A declaration of a Pre-Need Guardian allows you to specify your preferences for a guardian (or an individual to handle your personal and financial matters) in the event of your death or injury. It is always wise to invest in a Pre-Need Guardian to handle your personal and financial matters in the event that you become mentally incapacitated. Life is an unpredictable journey and you may never know when an emergency or other unforeseeable event may strike. When it does, it will benefit you to be prepared. To begin naming your Pre-Need Guardian, visit our Florida family law firm today for assistance.

My father does not have a Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate. What should we expect?

We always encourage our clients to name a Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate when they are capable of doing so. If your father becomes mentally incapacitated and does not have a Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate, the court will appoint a guardian on his behalf to manage his needs. When it comes to a person’s health and property, it is best to have a qualified and trustworthy individual make decisions on your father’s behalf. While the court may not appoint a Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate of your father’s choice, you can trust that the court will assign the appropriate guardian to make decisions on behalf of your father.

In some cases, your father’s spouse may hold a certain level of rights and responsibilities over your father’s assets and person.

For a greater understanding of this, we recommend that you speak to a guardianship lawyer in Gainesville, FL.

How is a Plenary Guardian and a Limited Guardian different?

A Plenary Guardian has full, comprehensive rights and duties over a ward’s person or property. A Limited Guardian has limited rights and duties over a ward’s person or property. In fact, Limited Guardians are typically assigned with a designated area to supervise or manage.

How do I secure a Guardian for my child in the event that I die?

If you have someone in mind who you believe will serve as an excellent guardian to your children in the event of your passing, you should speak to this individual. Address your concerns and wishes with him/her and ask if guardianship over your children is something that he/she feels comfortable with.

We welcome both you and your desired guardian to speak with a family law lawyer in Gainesville, FL. An attorney at our Gainesville law firm can help you craft legally binding documents, including wills, trusts and other contracts, that names a guardian on your children’s behalf and specifies the responsibilities/rights therein. You also have the right to modify and void these documents overtime if it becomes necessary.

In what ways will I be able to make decisions for my developmentally disabled child when he/she becomes 18?

When your developmentally disabled child becomes 18 years old, he/she is at the age of adulthood. In order to continue to make governing decisions on his/her behalf, you can opt to pursue a Guardian Advocacy over him/her.

Why is it necessary to become a guardian over my minor child to collect his/her inheritances?

If you desire to collect proceeds of your minor child’s inheritance, you must become a part of the legal process. When children are named as beneficiaries to another’s estate, there are strict legal requirements that must be followed. Because your name may not be on a particular will or trust, the only method for exercising financial rights and governance over your children’s inheritance is via a secured guardianship.

Contact Silverman, Mack & Associates for more details on Florida guardianship, and the rights, duties, and responsibilities therein. We offer free initial consultations.