For those who have never dealt with the process, guardianship in Florida can be both confusing and intimidating. Of course, the best way to alleviate those concerns is to be prepared and seek guidance from a knowledgeable Miami probate attorney. To assist with the former, we have outlined some key points to know about the purpose of guardianship and the process for appointing a guardian.
Reasons for Guardianship
Any time a person is determined to be incapacitated, and therefore incapable of making his or her own decisions, that person will need someone else to make important decisions for them. There are many reasons the court might designate a person as a ward, or someone incapable of caring for themselves. For instance, if a child’s parents die or are unable to care for him, he would need a guardian to do so. For adults, guardianship may be appointed as the result of aging or an accident or illness that leaves one physically unable to care for themselves.
The person tasked by the courts for making the decisions for the ward is known as the guardian. Such decisions may concern everything from medical care, to living arrangements, and even financial choices depending on the extent of the individual’s incapacitation. If a person is deemed partially incapacitated, she may have the ability to manage her daily life, but not be capable of handling her finances and medical care. Alternatively, a person deemed fully incapacitated would likely need someone to make nearly all of their decisions for them.
In situations where less restrictive options are viable, exploring them is almost always preferable. These options might include simply appointing a healthcare surrogate to manage decisions specifically related to healthcare or awarding someone power of attorney for particular needs. With a probate attorney’s guidance, one can determine if pursuing one of these options is more favorable for their loved one.
Who Can Serve as a Guardian?
There are three minimum requirements that must be met for guardianship in Florida. First, the guardian must be at least 18 years of age. Second, the guardian must not be a convicted felon. Third, he or she must be a Florida resident, unless one of the following are met:
- Directly related to the ward
- Legally adoptive parent of the ward
- Spouse of an individual who is directly related to the ward
If someone is interested in becoming the guardian of a person they believe to be incapacitated, he or she can submit the Application for Appointment as Guardian. On the other hand, if an individual simply believes guardianship is necessary and does not necessarily want to fulfill that role, he or she can either file a Petition to Determine Incapacity or a Petition for Appointment of Guardian. Even if the potential ward does not voluntarily agree to guardianship, the court can still determine incapacitation and appoint a suitable guardian. A Miami probate attorney can assist in submitting these petitions to ensure the process is completed properly.
If you are interested in learning more about guardianship in Florida, our team at Graham Legal is here to help. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation, so that we can begin seeking justice, together.