Adults sometimes experience a head injury, stroke, or other incident that leaves them unable to properly care for themselves. Sometimes people lose their cognitive functioning as they age, and they might not realize how impaired they are. They might not take care of themselves properly or become vulnerable to people who would exploit them.

When you or someone you care about needs help and protection, speak with a Coconut Grove adult guardianship lawyer. Appointing a guardian can ensure the person has a safe place to live, the healthcare interventions they need, and their money is safe from people who would take advantage of them.

The Basics of Adult Guardianship

Courts will not appoint a guardian just because someone makes questionable decisions or behaves strangely. The law supports an adult’s right to live as they wish, within limits. Guardianship could be imposed when the person seems unable to assess risk, understand or communicate information, or maintain their physical and financial wellbeing.

The legal name for the person who has a guardian is a ward. The law recognizes three kinds of guardian, each with different responsibilities toward the ward. A guardian of the person can decide where a ward lives, the healthcare they receive, and who visits them. A guardian of the property handles the ward’s money and pays their bills. Some guardians are authorized to do all these things and they are called plenary guardians.

An adult guardianship deprives the ward of some of their rights and courts will not do this if there are alternatives that would protect the ward but preserve their rights. A Coconut Grove attorney can discuss a specific situation with a concerned relative or loved one to determine whether an application for adult guardianship is the best option.

Setting Up an Adult Guardianship

A Probate Judge must establish a legal guardianship and any competent adult who believes someone requires a guardian can petition the court to appoint one. The petition must describe the concerns about the proposed ward in detail and suggest which powers the guardian should have.

There are different processes for establishing guardianship depending on whether the proposed ward agrees to the appointment of a guardian or wishes to retain control over all their affairs.

Involuntary Guardianship

When an allegedly infirm person refuses to allow someone else to handle some or all their affairs, a concerned person could file a petition for involuntary guardianship. The proposed ward must get a copy of the petition and the court will appoint a lawyer for the proposed ward if they do not have one.

The court will also appoint a panel of three medical professionals to examine the proposed ward. The panel members might have a background in clinical social work, psychiatry, gerontology, or similar specialties, depending on the alleged needs of the ward. The panel members interview the proposed ward and submit a report to the Judge.

Depending on the panel’s recommendations, the Judge could deny the guardianship or impose one. If the Judge approves a guardianship, the guardian will have only those powers necessary to protect the adult ward.

Voluntary Guardianship of an Adult

Someone who recognizes they are slipping or wants to be prepared for possible cognitive decline could seek a voluntary guardianship under Florida Statute § 744.341. One advantage of this process is the ability to choose the person who will serve as the guardian. Many people choose a spouse or adult child to be their guardian.

The proposed ward must submit a petition to the court asking a Judge to appoint a guardian and specifying what duties the ward wants the guardian to assume. The petition must include a statement from a doctor affirming that the proposed ward understands the implications of having a guardian.

Discuss Adult Guardianship with a Coconut Grove Attorney Today

A Coconut Grove adult guardianship lawyer can explain whether effective alternatives to guardianship are available in your specific case. If guardianship is the best way to achieve your goals, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can ensure you are on the right track. Get started today by scheduling a free case evaluation with us.