What is the Guardianship Process of an Adult in Florida?
The Guardianship Process of an adult in Florida refers to the court procedure whereby an individual is appointed a guardian. The Guardianship Process is the judicial remedy that allows another individual to protect and exercise the legal rights of another individual. Through the Guardianship Process, a guardian is given the ability to exercise someone else’s rights. The Ward is the individual who is has a guardian appointed to act on their behalf because they are unable to manage their property or make their own healthcare decisions. The guardian protects the Ward’s assets and makes decisions for the Ward.
The Guardianship Process of an adult in Florida requires representation by a Florida Guardianship Lawyer. The initial step in the guardianship process is to hire a Florida Guardianship Lawyer to prepare and file two separate petitions with the Court. The first petition is called the Petition to Determine Incapacity. A Petition to Determine Incapacity asks the Court to evaluate an adult’s ability to manage their assets and make their own healthcare decisions. The adult who is the subject of the Petition to Determine Incapacity is called an Alleged Incapacitated Person, or AIP. They do not become a ward until the court takes away rights.
The Petition for Appointment of Guardian is the second petition filed by the guardianship attorney. This petition asks the Court to appoint a guardian of the AIP. An Application for Appointment of Guardian and an Oath of Guardian are filed along with the Petition for Appointment of Guardian. The Application for Appointment of Guardian informs the Court that the proposed guardian meets the Florida requirements to be a guardian. The Oath of Guardian tells the Court the proposed guardian will faithfully perform the duties of guardian.
Once all required pleadings are filed with the Court, the Court appoints an attorney to represent the AIP. The AIP’s attorney is called a Court Appointed Attorney. The Court Appointed Attorney’s role is to meet with the AIP and inform the AIP of the Petition to Determine Incapacity and Petition for Appointment of Guardian. The Court Appointed Attorney advises the Court whether the AIP needs a guardianship and whether the proposed guardian is in the best interests of the AIP.
The Court also appoints an examining committee. The examining committee is comprised of three members and is governed by Florida Statute 744.331(3), which states:
“One member must be a psychiatrist or other physician. The remaining members must be either a psychologist, gerontologist, another psychiatrist, or other physician, a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, licensed social worker, a person with an advanced degree in gerontology from an accredited institution of higher education, or other person who by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may, in the court’s discretion, advise the court in the form of an expert opinion. One of three members of the committee must have knowledge of the type of incapacity alleged in the petition. Unless good cause is shown, the attending or family physician may not be appointed to the committee.”
The role of the examining committee is to advise the court whether, in their professional opinion, the AIP needs a guardianship due to an inability to manage their assets or make their own healthcare decisions.
In Jacksonville, Florida and surrounding counties, the hearing on the Petition to Determine Incapacity and Petition for Appointment of Guardian is set thirty to forty-five days after the guardian’s attorney files initial petitions. At the hearing, the Court determines whether the AIP is incapacitated and needs a guardian. The Court will also appoint the guardian during the hearing if one is required. If a guardian is necessary, the court will determine that the AIP is a ward. This time frame is only for an uncontested guardianship. If a guardianship becomes contested, the time frame can be longer. A guardianship becomes contested when another individual files a competing Petition for Appointment of Guardian.
If you believe a loved one is in need of a guardianship in Jacksonville, Florida, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today at (904) 685-1200. The Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC has experienced Jacksonville Guardianship Lawyers who can help you through the Guardianship Process of an adult in Florida.