Life is full of unexpected events, and sometimes we must handle the difficult situation of having a loved one become unable to support themselves in their day-to-day life. This can also be a complicated event if the person who has become incapacitated has young children in their care. Appointing a legal guardian to help make decisions for that person may be needed when the time comes. If you believe your family or loved ones may need to consider legal guardianship in the near future, this article is for you. We’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions like, “What is Guardianship?”, “What is the guardianship process?” and “How do I Choose the Right Guardian?”. 

What is Legal Guardianship?

In Florida, guardianship is a legal relationship between the guardian and an incapacitated individual. Often, the guardian is an adult family member who becomes responsible for the individual. A guardian will also be appointed for minors whose parents have died or become incapacitated and have received an inheritance or have assets that must be managed. To qualify as a Florida guardian, one must be over 18 years old and is either a Florida resident or meets the specific qualifications established by Florida law if non-resident.

What is the Guardianship Process?

In most cases, a family member is appointed as the guardian for the individual in question. However, a professional could also be appointed as a co-guardian of the “estate” if there are considerable valuable assets to maintain. If the incapacitated person has no family or friends and no qualified personnel seeks to be appointed, the Court will then appoint an attorney to take on the responsibility of a legal guardian.

A person who is said to be incapacitated after suffering a life-changing health issue must have a guardian become the decision-maker concerning their medical and financial affairs. Before being appointed as a guardian, the individual claiming to need guardianship will need to undergo an examination.

When filing a petition to assess if the person is incapacitated, a committee of (at minimum) two physicians is assigned to conduct a series of tests regarding the individual’s physical, mental, and functional state. The committee then reports their findings to the Court after the completed examination process to be evaluated by a judge and help determine if the individual is genuinely incapacitated. If the committee does not believe that the individual in question is incapacitated, the judge may dismiss the petition.

How do I Choose the Guardianship for an Adult or Minor?

As mentioned above, the guardian is a family member in most cases. When that is not possible, an experienced attorney would be the best choice to help the individual in question choose the proper guardianship for an adult or guardianship for a minor.

The process of selecting the guardian involves a lot of different factors and criteria considered by the Court, which is why it is so important to have a skilled and experienced attorney help in the required steps for guardianship. Whether you are the individual requesting to be appointed as a guardian for someone else, or you are looking for the Court to appoint a third-party guardian, the guidance of an attorney is crucial to ensure a successful process for everyone involved.

Leisa - Family Matters Law Group

At Family Matters Law Group, we have extensive experience in guardianship cases, and we are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and allow one of our attorneys to assess your specific case.