Florida – October 31, 2020

Florida residents should have the ultimate say in how their care needs evolve in the case of emergency, aging or other circumstances that may leave them without a voice, along with the ability to plan final matters related to their estate, probate and  funeral preparations.  A legal professional is a valuable asset, as determinations are made on how to manage a person’s life, along with estate planning activities in the best interests of a whole family. Elder law attorneys are instrumental in drafting and appropriately filing necessary guardianship documents.

Guardianship.

There are instances that align with the advancement of age, or other cognitive disruptions due to underlying temporary, or long term illnesses, where the court may need to appoint someone to make decisions on behalf of another individual, who has not already designated someone to make decisions for them in completed estate planning documents.  The individual is referred to as a “guardian” acting as a surrogate decision-maker appointed by the court to make either personal and/or financial decisions on behalf of another person who will be known as their “ward.”  Guardianship is granted only through courts and is necessary when a person is found to be incapacitated by a court evaluator. A guardianship is only necessary when no other advance directive documentation has been prepared. An estate planning attorney can answer questions regarding the duties of a guardian.

Voluntary versus involuntary.

Florida law allows both voluntary and involuntary guardianships. A voluntary guardianship may be established with the assistance of elder law attorneys for an adult who, though mentally competent, is incapable of managing his or her own estate and voluntarily petitions for the appointment.

Limited versus absolute. 

Florida law provides for limited and absolute adult guardianship. A limited guardianship is one where the court notes the ward to be lacking in some capacity, but they can still handle some of the necessary tasks related their own person and property, apart from any other pre-planned, written instructions for all aspects of their life. A plenary (absolute) guardian is a court appointed individual who is legally authorized to act on behalf of an incapacitated adult ward who cannot take care of themself.  In accordance with Florida Statutes Chapter 744, the guardianship will be subject to court oversight to make certain the appointed guardian is acting in an ethical manner regarding the care of the ward. Speak to a Florida elder law attorney regarding guardianship concerns.

Seek legal counsel.

An experienced estate planning attorney in Stuart Florida can answer questions regarding the need for guardianships and probate actions. The Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm lawyers can answer all relevant questions regarding the types of guardianships and responsibilities assigned to each type.

The Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm, P.L.

850 NW Federal Highway #1004
Stuart, FL 34994
Phone: 772-261-8556

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0744/0744ContentsIndex.html&StatuteYear=2019&Title=%2D%3E2019%2D%3EChapter%20744

https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2018/731.201

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