Many people have an incorrect understanding of the wide range of legal matters guardianship can cover. Guardianship can be appropriate to protect the funds of a minor child (as required by state statute, even when there are natural parents acting as the legal guardian of the child); or when a disabled individual has reached the age of majority and their parents are no longer the individual’s legal guardian; or when an individual is injured and loses the capacity to act for themselves, and there are no (or insufficient) advance directives that provide for the management of the individual’s affairs; or when an elderly adult has lost the ability to care for themselves and has no legally designated surrogates in place.
When people can no longer care for themselves or their assets need legal protection, a guardianship can be an appropriate course of action. In the formal guardianship process, the Court appoints a person, or at times a corporate entity, to manage the affairs of the person in question (called the ward). Once the guardianship has been established with respect to the ward’s person and/or property, the appointed legal guardian ensures appropriate protection of the ward and their property. The Court continues to oversee the guardian’s actions on behalf of the ward, ensuring greater protection of the incapacitated individual than via traditional agency relationships, such as a health care surrogate designation or durable power of attorney.
In addition to formal guardianship proceedings, appointment of a guardian advocate may be appropriate when the alleged incapacitated person meets certain criteria that allows for a less complicated, less expensive, and less restrictive form of legal surrogacy. In a guardian advocacy proceeding, the Court does not have to declare the individual incapacitated, but the individual must be developmentally disabled, as defined within the Florida Statutes. Guardian advocacy is frequently an attractive, less restrictive alternative, to full formal guardianship over an independent and highly functioning adult with a developmental disability.
Rossway Swan advises and represents clients in all aspects of guardianships. Our firm:
- Establishes guardianships by demonstrating to the Court the need to protect the person or assets of the individual;
- Advises guardians as to their responsibilities, assists with continued administration of a guardianship or guardian advocacy, and helps guardians fulfill their annual and other reporting requirements;
- Represents clients who do not wish to become subject to a guardianship, as necessary to best protect their interests, in an ethical and compassionate manner; and
- Represents clients in all types of guardianship litigation, including professional guardians and corporations as well as individuals.