When an adult cannot care for themselves properly, they might need a guardian, which is a person with the legal right to make certain decisions for someone else. A parent is a child’s guardian—they decide where the child lives, what they do with their time, how much spending money they get, and what sort of healthcare they receive. A guardian for an adult might have somewhat similar responsibilities.
An adult who has a guardian is called the guardian’s “ward.” The ward loses certain rights when someone else becomes their guardian. Therefore, a court must decide whether someone needs a guardian and if so, the court monitors them closely.
If you believe an adult in your life requires a guardian, speak with a local attorney. A Coconut Grove guardianship lawyer can explain how a court decides whether someone needs a guardian and review that person’s rights and responsibilities.
Is Guardianship Necessary?
The older an adult gets, the more likely they are to develop a physical or mental condition that interferes with their ability to care for themselves. If the person is a danger to themselves or vulnerable to fraud or exploitation, it might be necessary to appoint a guardian to protect them.
Determining the Need for a Guardian
When an adult becomes a guardian’s ward, the ward loses the rights that the guardian gains. The law has a complex process to ensure that an adult is incapacitated before appointing a guardian. The process begins when someone, usually a family member, or friend files a petition asking the court to appoint a guardian. This petitioner is represented by a Coconut Grove guardianship attorney in the process.
The court will appoint a lawyer for the person who may need a guardian. The court will also ask the person to submit to interviews with a panel of three experts, at least one of whom will be a medical doctor.
The panel will review the person’s medical records and other pertinent information and conduct interviews. Each expert submits a report on whether the person needs guardianship. If the reports and other evidence persuade the Judge that the person needs a guardian, the court will appoint someone to fill that role.
Types of Guardianship
Florida law recognizes several types of guardianship. Because a person with a guardian loses some of their rights, Judges try to impose the least restrictive form of guardianship that will be effective in the circumstances. A Coconut Grove attorney can help a family member determine what kind of guardianship to ask for in a particular case. There can also be a standby guardian if the primary one is unable to fulfill their duties.
Guardian of the Person
The guardian of a ward’s person is responsible for their physical body, making medical decisions and deciding where a person should live, such as with a relative, in a nursing home, or in the ward’s home. However, if the guardian of the person decides the ward must leave their home to enter a nursing home or another facility, the guardian does not have the authority to sell the ward’s home.
Guardian of the Property
The guardian of the ward’s property has access to their bank accounts and other funds. They pay the ward’s bills and monitor their spending or handle all spending for the ward. The guardian of the property could sell the ward’s home if the ward cannot live there any longer.
According to Florida Statute § 744.102, a plenary guardian has complete authority. They may make decisions about the ward’s healthcare, where the ward lives, and handle their finances.
A person may submit to voluntary guardianship, which allows a person they designate to handle decision-making. The procedure for voluntary guardianship is straightforward. The proposed guardian submits a petition to establish guardianship and an application to the court. Without objection from the proposed ward, the court will usually grant the application.
Explore Your Options with a Coconut Grove Guardianship Attorney Today
If your loved one cannot care for themselves or handle their money, appointing a guardian may be the right thing to do. Discuss the possibility with your loved one and a Coconut Grove guardianship lawyer.
If you decide to establish a guardianship, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can explain a guardian’s rights and responsibilities and help you every step of the way. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation today.