In cases where an adult is no longer able to manage their own affairs or finances for any reason, their relatives may want to take control for them. This process is known as guardianship, and it doesn’t just apply to relatives; any adult can apply to become a guardian, although whether they will be successful is another matter of course.
There are a number of different scenarios in which a guardianship application might be changed, as well as being used in order to take charge of the affairs of an incapacitated person. They can also be used to protect the legal rights of an individual who is unable to themselves.
Hiring a Guardianship Lawyer
The first step in the process of obtaining guardianship is to seek out the services of a guardianship lawyer. You will need a lawyer who specializes in, and ideally has experience with, guardianship laws. A Florida guardianship lawyer will be able to advise you as to whether guardianship is appropriate in your situation or whether you are in a position to pursue it.
You will then need to file a Petition to Determine Incapacity, which is a legal document asking the court to make a judgement as to whether the subject is able to manage their own affairs or not. If the court finds that they are capable, the petition will not be granted. However, if they agree that the adult is unable to manage their own affairs, they will delegate power of attorney to the claimant.
What Does the Court Consider?
The court will consider the opinions of any medical professionals, including mental health professionals, that declare a person to be incapacitated or temporarily unable to manage their own affairs.
In some cases, such as where a person is in a coma or rendered unconscious, they will not be able to make decisions or give consent. When this happens unexpectedly, it is the next of kin that make decisions. However, a guardianship petition can be used by an individual to take control if they feel that the current guardian is unsuitable.
The patient who is allegedly incapacitated is known in legal documents as the Alleged Incapacitated Person. It is their assets and their affairs that are the subject of any orders made by the court, and so the court must do its due diligence in ensuring that it is appropriate to strip them of the fundamental ability to make their own decisions.
To this end, the court will appoint an attorney to investigate and ensure that the filings that have been made are accurate and correct. The parties to those papers that are filed with the court must also file pleadings, affirming that they will act responsibly and for the benefit of the AIP.
The process of obtaining guardianship in Florida is simple and straightforward, provided you have a solid case of course. Working with an experienced guardianship attorney will benefit you enormously and will help to speed your application along.