Guardianship Laws for the Elderly in Naples, Florida
A guardianship for an elderly person occurs when a judge determines an individual to be incapacitated and a guardian is appointed to care for them. The subject of the guardianship is called the Ward and the person appointed by the court to care for them is called the guardian. A family member or professional guardian is usually appointed by the court to fill this role.
Given that the guardian is tasked with the supervision of a vulnerable person, there are specific requirements that must be met before court appointment is determined necessary. The guardian’s activities are overseen by both their attorney and the Court to ensure the protection of the incapacitated person.
If you have an elderly loved one who can no longer maintain independence, contact a guardianship attorney from Prather & Swank, P.A. for help initiating the guardianship process.
How does the Guardianship Process Work?
Each state has its own guardianship procedures. In Florida, the process begins with the filing of a Petition to Determine Incapacity and Petition to Appoint Guardian. The Petitioner is represented by an attorney while the Court appoints an attorney to represent the alleged incapacitated person. An examining committee is also appointed by the Court and is comprised of three professionals ordered to meet with and evaluate the sick person’s capacity. These professionals then prepare and submit reports and recommendations which are discussed at a Court hearing. Any reasonable alternatives to guardianship must be considered as well. A guardian can be responsible for the Ward’s property, person, or both.
The most common Petitioners in a guardianship proceeding are:
- A spouse or domestic partner of the elderly person.
- A relative of the elderly person.
- A friend of the elderly person.
There is no requirement that the person who signs the Petition to Determine Incapacity also petitions for appointment as their guardian. Often, a family member may sign the initial pleadings, but request the appointment of a professional guardian. A guardianship can put a strain on the relationship between family members, so paying a professional to be “the bad guy” is appealing to many.
The guardianship process can be complex, but due process is essential to ensure a guardianship is in fact needed and that an appropriate and capable person is appointed as guardian.
Duties of a Legal Guardian
A guardian of an elderly person must be represented by an attorney and is required to submit reports to the Court with respect to the living arrangements and care plan of the Ward, their property, or both, depending on the case’s needs. In most cases, the legal guardian must be bonded. A non-professional guardian is required to take a training course within 4 months of their court appointment. There are a few actions a guardian may be permitted to enact without first getting Court permission, but many actions require a court order.