When a person is unable to manage his or her property, finances or personal care, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for that person. A guardianship is a legal proceeding in Florida where a guardian is appointed to act on behalf of an incapacitated person, called a ward.
Petition and review
A prospective guardian can petition the court and the court will determine whether the prospective ward has incapacity. The court will appoint a committee which is usually made up of two physicians and one additional person who has knowledge, training and skills to form an expert opinion about the incapacity.
The potential ward may be asked to complete a physical and mental health evaluation and a functional assessment. Each committee member then submits a report of their findings to the court.
If the committee members find that the potential ward is not incapacitated, the judge will dismiss the petition. If they find that he or she is totally or partially incapacitated, the judge will schedule a hearing and if the person is found to be incapacitated, the court will appoint a guardian.
Any adult resident of Florida can serve as a guardian. The guardian does not have to be related to the ward. There are also nonprofit organizations, banks and other institutions that may provide guardianship services.
The guardian is required to inventory the ward’s property, use it for the ward’s support and keep an accounting of expenditures. The guardian is also required to file annual reports with the court.
An experienced attorney can answer questions about guardianships and provide representation.