Guardianships serve an important purpose. Florida courts can appoint a guardian for minors or adults who are physically or mentally disabled or incapable of taking care of themselves or making decisions. A guardian can be appointed to make financial and/or personal decisions on behalf of the adult.
Guardians are assigned through the probate court. A guardian can be anyone, but it is commonly a family member, such as a spouse or adult child.
While a guardianship can be a solution to a difficult situation, there are times that disputes surrounding the guardianship arise.
Common reasons for disputes
A family member may believe that the wrong person was appointed as a guardian, alleging they are not capable of handling the challenges and responsibilities of being a guardian, or that they will not act in the ward’s best interests.
Sometimes the ward themselves will challenge the guardianship, fighting back against the idea that they cannot make their own decisions.
You can challenge a guardianship by raising one or both of these points. You can argue that the proposed guardian is not eligible or that the proposed ward does not meet the qualifications for a guardianship.
Challenging the guardian
Guardians must meet certain criteria to qualify as a guardian. Typical objections to someone being a guardian include things like the proposed guardian having a criminal record, particularly one involving sexual or violent crimes, or a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
Another common way to challenge a proposed guardian’s eligibility is to show that they are not capable of handling the ward’s daily needs and/or their finances.
You must prove these things with evidence. For example, if the proposed guardian has filed bankruptcy in the past after making poor financial decisions, this can be used as evidence that they are not a suitable choice to handle someone else’s financial affairs.
Challenging the need for a guardianship
If you are challenging the guardianship because you do not believe that the proposed ward needs a guardian, you must show evidence that they are able to manage their own daily needs.
The proposed ward can testify about their ability to conduct their daily business and personal affairs and make decisions, but it will strengthen your case if the testimony is backed up by witnesses.
A doctor’s testimony can be extremely strong. A qualified doctor can testify that they have examined the proposed ward and concluded that they do not meet the definition of incapacity.
You can also have friends or family members testify. These witnesses should have observed the proposed ward recently and for an extended period to increase their testimony’s credibility. They can testify that based on their observations they do not believe the proposed ward need a guardian.
Advocating for you
A guardianship can be a nightmare situation for both the guardian and ward in some situations. The ward may end up neglecting or abusing the guardian, causing major harm, or the ward may lash out at the guardian out of anger, feeling that they do not need to be controlled by a guardian.
It is best to challenge a proposed guardianship immediately if you do not feel it is appropriate. An attorney experienced with guardianships can assist you.