How To Attain Guardianship For A Special Needs Loved One

World Down Syndrome Day: Special Needs and Guardianship

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. On World Down Syndrome Day, “people with Down syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice advocating for the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome.” (

If your loved one has down syndrome, you may have heard of the term “legal guardianship”.  Per Florida Statutes 744.102, A Guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court to act on behalf of a ward’s person or property, or both.” If you are appointed as a guardian for someone, you can make certain decisions on behalf of that person such as their residence, social environment, and banking options. There are several types of guardianships depending on your loved ones needs or situation, such as a limited guardianship, a plenary guardianship, and a guardian advocacy.

When children turn 18, their parents can no longer legally make decisions on their behalf. If you plan on becoming a loved one’s guardian, you should consult with a guardianship attorney before they turn 18 years old so that all of the proper pleadings are prepared ahead of time. A guardianship will allow you to continue making several decisions to assist your child or loved one such as medical, financial, or other decisions that can benefit their well-being.

There are a few steps that need to be taken before you can become a guardian in Florida. First, a panel of doctors appointed by the court must determine the ward’s capacity. If the ward is considered to be incapacitated, the court then looks towards appointing a guardian. If a guardian is needed, there are certain documents to be filed with the court depending on the type of guardianship arrangement your loved one needs. As time goes on, you must file certain court documents to be up to date such as an annual guardianship report or an annual guardianship accounting form. When you consult with an attorney regarding guardianship, they will tell you which documents need to be updated each year. Guardians seeking appointment must also do a background screening as per Florida Statutes 744.3135.

When considering a legal guardianship, it is imperative you meet with an experienced family or guardianship attorney. The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm has a team of experienced Probate and Family attorneys located in Coral Gables, Florida. We serve the entire state of Florida so if you are seeking guardianship over a loved one, contact us to set up an appointment to evaluate your options. Call us at 305-677-5119 or email us at

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