Guardian Advocacy is often viewed as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship because it does not require a determination of incapacity. Guardian advocates have the same responsibilities as guardians—the key distinction is a guardian may be assigned to any person determined to be incapacitated, while a person with a developmental disability must meet the statutory requirements to be appointed a guardian advocate. A guardian advocate may only be appointed to individuals who have a developmental disability and lack the ability to perform some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to take care of his or her own person or property. Somebody with a developmental disability may also choose to voluntarily petition for the appointment of a guardian advocate.
When may appointment of a Guardian Advocate be necessary?
When a child turns eighteen, parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on the child’s behalf. Parents with children who have a developmental disability are usually concerned about how they will be able to continue to make medical and financial decisions for their child once he or she turns eighteen. If parents believe their child with a developmental disability is unable to make informed decisions and the parents wish to continue to have the legal authority to make decisions for their child, they can do so by filing a petition for guardian advocacy.
Appointment of a Guardian Advocate
The appointment of a guardian advocate does not require the child with a developmental disability to be examined by a committee made up of experts for an evaluation. Instead, the court uses the child’s educational evaluations, individual education plans and support plans, to determine if a guardian advocate is needed to exercise certain rights.
Responsibilities of a Guardian Advocate
Even if you are appointed as your child’s guardian advocate, being appointed as a guardian advocate comes with fiduciary responsibilities. You will have to comply with some court oversight and will be required to complete a court-approved guardianship advocacy course.
You will also need to file an initial report with the court within 60 days of being appointed as a guardian advocate. The report should address the mental health, medical, social, and personal care needs of the person with developmental disabilities.
Guardian advocacy is considered less restrictive than a traditional guardianship, so your rights over the person with developmental disabilities are limited by the court’s order. Under guardian advocacy, decision-making for all rights may not be delegated to the guardian advocate. The person with the developmental disability is still able to participate in making decisions about his or her own life. This allows the person to develop in ways that would otherwise be impossible if he or she had no decision-making authority.
We know the guardian advocate process can be time-consuming, intrusive and stressful for everyone involved. However, working with an experienced Florida Guardianship attorney can make the process much easier for everyone involved. The attorneys at The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm understand your situation, and we will use our extensive experience to secure the most favorable solution in your case. We pride ourselves on understanding our client’s needs and goals, and then use our knowledge, skill, and resources to work towards a desirable outcome. Contact us today to discuss your situation, get your questions answered, and find out how we can help guide your through the guardian advocate process.