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There may come a time when you or a loved one requires extra assistance for day to day or long term decisions.  When this occurs, you or an appropriate court, may decide it is in the best interests of the person to appoint a guardian.  Guardianship can be a complicated legal process.  Here are a few things you should know.

What is a Guardianship

Guardianship in Florida is a legal process in which a court determines that a person's ability to make decisions have been impaired.  Once the court has made this determination they appoint another responsible adult, the guardian, to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated or impaired person.

Guardianship can be temporary or permanent and be limited or plenary, meaning the guardian has the ability to make all decisions for the person.  Guardianship can also be voluntary, in which a person has previously provided that a guardian be appointed, before they were incapacitated.  A guardianship can also be involuntary when someone doesn't have the capacity to care for themselves.

When Will the Court Appoint a Guardian

When a court will appoint a guardian varies depending on whether the person, or ward, is a minor or an adult.

Minor Child

Under Florida law, a court will appoint a guardian for a minor child under several circumstances:

  • Parents of child have died
  • Parents of child have become incapacitated
  • Parents of child are unavailable (incarceration or other situation)
  • When a minor child inherits an estate or receives proceeds of an insurance policy in excess of the statutory amount.

Once appointed, the guardian of a minor child will be able to make legal decisions regarding the health, welfare, education or financial interests of the child.  The duties of the guardian may be limited solely to financial issues in the event of an inheritance, or may be all encompassing.  In certain circumstances, a family relative may be appointed guardian of a minor child.

Incapacitated Adult

In order for an adult to be appointed a guardian, they must first be deemed incapacitated by the court.  This will typically involve a formal legal proceeding.   As part of the proceeding, the court will appoint a committee of three persons, two physicians and another person who is qualified to make an official determination of incapacitation.  This committee will make a recommendation to the court, based on a review of the evidence and formal physical and mental exams.

Can I Terminate a Guardianship

In most cases, terminating a guardianship will also require a legal proceeding.  The party seeking the termination will have to provide evidence that the incapacitation is no longer present, or is reduced so that the ward may begin making certain decisions on their own.

Legal Assistance for Guardianship Proceedings

As with any legal proceeding, you should consult with a qualified legal professional regarding your guardianship case.  A qualified attorney, such as those at the Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A., can discuss the intricacies of Florida guardianship laws and will be available to assist you throughout the hearing process and with filing various legal documents and meeting all requirements in order to protect and enforce your legal rights.

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