Adults are sometimes unable to care for themselves, which means they might need a guardian. Family members or other responsible adults could be a guardian and take responsibility for the person’s physical welfare and financial matters.
When an adult in your life requires a guardian or you think they may in the future, speak with a South Miami adult guardianship lawyer. One of our experienced guardianship attorneys can help you decide whether this legal tool is the best way to handle your situation.
When An Adult Might Need a Guardian
A guardian has the legal obligation and authority to make specific decisions for another person, who is called the ward. Adult guardianship requires taking rights away from the ward and allowing the guardian to exercise those rights on the ward’s behalf. Courts are unwilling to take rights away from an adult without proof it is necessary for their protection.
Adult guardianship can arise in many contexts. People with developmental disabilities may have a guardian to help them manage their money and ensure their physical comfort and safety. People who suffer head injuries in accidents are sometimes left with cognitive impairments that make it impossible for them to care for themselves. Older adults might develop dementia or become forgetful or gullible, and need a guardian to safeguard their assets and ensure proper care.
Family members often serve as guardians. The parents of a disabled child might designate one of the child’s siblings to serve as guardian after the parents pass away. A spouse or child might be the guardian of an accident victim or someone with age-related impairments. However, people with felony convictions are disqualified from being guardians, as are people convicted of certain other crimes. A South Miami attorney can confirm if a prospective guardian is legally qualified before submitting the adult guardianship application.
Guardianship Appointment Process
A probate court Judge must establish a legal guardianship. Florida Statute §744.3201 allows any competent adult to file a petition with the court seeking to have another person declared incapacitated. This person must receive notice of the petition and the court will appoint an attorney for them if they do not have one. They have the right to object to the guardianship.
If the person does not agree to have a guardian, the court will appoint a committee of three experts to conduct interviews with them and examine their medical records. One member of the committee must be a medical doctor or psychiatrist. Each committee member writes a report for the court with their findings regarding whether the person requires a guardian’s protection.
Someone who receives a difficult diagnosis or recognizes that age-related issues are impairing their decision-making could submit to voluntary guardianship. In these cases, the person asks a court to name a specific person as their guardian. They must submit a letter from their doctor indicating they have the capacity to understand what it means to have a guardian. An attorney can help a South Miami family prepare a petition for guardianship of an adult.
Responsibilities of Adult Guardianship
A Judge’s order establishing guardianship describes the guardian’s authority. The guardian must confine their activities to those the Judge listed in the order.
There are three kinds of adult guardianship. A guardian of the person can make healthcare decisions, choose where the ward should live, and make contracts for personal care services to ensure the ward’s hygiene and physical health. A guardian of the property handles the ward’s finances and manages their property. If one person has authority over the ward’s health and property, they are called a plenary guardian.
A guardian must take a training course, keep the court informed of their activities, and often must post a bond. They must do an inventory and create a guardianship plan within 60 days of their appointment and make annual reports thereafter.
Get Support on Adult Guardianship Issues From a South Miami Attorney Today
Guardianship affects an adult’s autonomy, so it is important to proceed carefully and with tact. Once appointed, the guardian must respect the limits the Judge puts on their authority.
A South Miami adult guardianship lawyer can help a ward, their guardian, or their families on any matters related to this important process. Call today to set up a free case evaluation with The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm.