As they age, some people develop problems maintaining a healthy lifestyle or complying with their medication regime, while others might make poor financial decisions or become vulnerable to scammers. Still others have trouble managing all aspects of their lives.
When you believe your loved one needs help with personal decision-making, consult a Pinecrest adult guardianship lawyer. Our professionally trained guardianship attorneys can help you ask the court to appoint a guardian who can protect your loved one while allowing them to retain as much autonomy as their condition permits.
Three Types of Guardians
The law will not deprive an adult the right to decide the affairs of their life unless it is clear the person has an incapacity that requires someone else to take responsibility for certain aspects.
However, a Judge must allow an adult to retain as much control over their life as possible, consistent with their well-being and safety. When the court does appoint a guardian, the protected person is called a “ward.” In Pinecrest, an attorney can advise on the three types of adult guardianship the court will choose from, based on the needs of the ward.
Guardian of the Person
The guardian of the person can make decisions about where a ward lives and the people with whom they associate. If the ward executed a health care proxy and an advanced directive before becoming incapacitated, the guardian must honor them when making decisions. The guardian can consent to or refuse healthcare and mental health treatment for the ward if the ward did not prepare written directions before their incapacity.
Guardian of the Property
The guardian of the property can access the ward’s bank accounts and investment accounts, pay the ward’s bills, and arrange for public assistance. They can bring or defend a lawsuit on the person’s behalf.
Guardian of the Person and Property
Often called the plenary guardian, the guardian of the person and property has the authority to control both aspects.
Legal Assistance with Adult Guardianship
There are voluntary and involuntary processes for establishing an adult guardianship in Pinecrest. When someone feels they need a guardian or may soon, they can apply to the court for a specific person to handle specific matters on their behalf. Their petition must include a statement from their doctor stating the person understands what guardianship is and what it will mean for them. This is the voluntary guardianship procedure.
The involuntary guardianship procedure requires a family member, concerned person, or institution (like a bank or a social services agency) to petition the court for the appointment of a guardian. If the proposed ward objects to the guardianship, the Judge will appoint a panel of experts, at least one of whom must be a doctor, to interview the person who allegedly needs a guardian. The experts will report back to the Judge on their findings.
After receiving the experts’ reports, the Judge could deny the request for guardianship or appoint a guardian to carry out and manage specific tasks. The guardian works under the court’s supervision and must submit an inventory and plan within 60 days of appointment.
Limitations on an Adult Guardian’s Power
Florida Statute § 744.3215 preserves extensive rights for a person who is declared incapacitated and appointed a guardian. When the Judge appoints a guardian, they limit their powers. A guardian may take over only those tasks and decisions the ward is incapable of handling on their own and the Judge will specify them in the order appointing the guardian. It is wise for a guardian of an adult to go over their orders with a Pinecrest attorney so they understand what they can and cannot do.
There are some limits a guardian cannot place on a ward but that a Judge can, including:
- Removing a ward’s right to vote;
- Prohibiting a ward from traveling;
- Preventing a ward from marrying;
- Forcing a ward to give up their driver’s license.
Other rights the court could remove are the right to get a job and to apply for public benefits.
Guardians must get the Judge’s permission before they can commit a ward to a facility like a nursing home or psychiatric hospital. They may not consent to experimental healthcare treatments without the court’s permission and they need the court’s permission to consent to a ward’s divorce, termination of parental rights, or abortion.
Consult a Pinecrest Attorney About Adult Guardianship Today
Adult guardianship is a way to protect vulnerable loved ones when they are no longer able to care for themselves. A guardian has only the power a court gives them and the ward retains as much autonomy as possible.
These are complicated, emotional issues and discussing them with The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can help you gain clarity about what is right for your loved one. Reach out today to get a free case evaluation and speak with a Pinecrest adult guardianship lawyer.