Our guardianship practice consists of providing quality services to those who may need to establish a legal guardianship because they are unable to take care of themselves or their finances. Establishing a guardianship is legal proceeding where the court monitors the well-being and/or financial situation of an individual who is unable to do so alone due to mental infirmity or youthful age. When a person has a comprehensive estate plan, often the need for a guardianship is eliminated. However, if there is no estate plan in place, the court may become involved to determine the rights of individuals and to provide the appropriate care. There are essentially two types of guardianships in Florida, minor guardianships and incapacitated guardianships.
When a person’s mental capabilities are becoming impaired and he or she cannot make important decisions concerning daily life such as finances, medical care or legal transactions, a guardianship may be needed. A guardianship for an incapacitated person can be established either voluntarily or through a petition through the court. The incapacitated person will be investigated by three medical personnel and will receive the services of an appointed attorney to protect his/her interests during the process. A hearing will occur whereby all interested persons will have an opportunity to present evidence in favor or against the guardianship being granted. The court determines what is best for the individual who is the subject of the proceeding. Sometimes the guardianship is not necessary, and the court will base such a decision on the evidence reviewed by the court.
When a guardianship is granted, there are two aspects to be considered. First are decisions about health care, living environment, social environment and the daily functions of the incapacitated person, among other things. The second aspect is the property; in other words, who will manage the person’s assets and financial outlook. When the guardian is appointed, he or she will be deemed to be in control of whatever aspects the court orders. It is quite possible to have a guardianship where some rights are not taken away, giving only limited control to the guardian.
This occurs in a variety of ways, such as a minor child who is involved in an automobile accident and receives a substantial amount of money as a result. In Florida, a guardianship is required when a minor receives significant sums of money, even when the child lives with his/her parents. The guardianship protects the assets of the minor until he or she reaches the age of majority or as otherwise determined by the court.
This money is held in a restricted account where only certain items can be paid with court permission. This is a strong safeguard for the minor child during the guardianship. Under certain circumstances, the guardianship can be extended after the child becomes an adult.
We can help determine what type of guardianship, if any, is required and assist clients through the entire process. Contact us online in Clearwater or Tampa to discuss your guardianship questions. You can also call 813-279-6180 to arrange a consultation.