Guardianship Laws Affecting the Elderly in Cape Coral
When an elderly person is determined to be incapacitated by a judge, legal guardianship becomes necessary. The incapacitated person in need of legal guardianship is called the Ward and the court appointed person is usually a family member or professional guardian. Once incapacity is determined, the legal guardian has authority to exercise the rights removed from the Ward.
Since a guardian is responsible for a vulnerable person, specific requirements must be met before court appointment can happen. A guardian’s activities will be overseen by both their attorney and the Court.
Call Beth A. Prather, P.A. for help initiating a guardianship. We are located in Fort Myers, but our office is convenient for clients in Cape Coral.
How does the Guardianship Process Work?
Guardianship procedures vary by state. In Florida, the guardianship process begins with filing the following: a Petition to Determine Incapacity and Petition to Appoint Guardian. The Petitioner is represented by an attorney and the Court then appoints an attorney to represent the supposed debilitated person. The Court then appoints an examining committee, which is made up of three professionals who are ordered to meet with and evaluate the sick person’s capacity.
This professional group will then prepare and submit reports and recommendations which are discussed at a court hearing. Any and all reasonable alternatives to guardianship must be considered as well. A guardian can be responsible for an elderly person’s property, person, or both.
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.
It is not always required for the person who signs the Petition to Determine Incapacity to also petition for Appointment as Guardian. It is actually very common for a family member to sign the initial pleadings but request the appointment of a professional guardian. Sometimes guardianship can create tension between family members and a professional guardian can serve as the middleman.
While the process for determining legal guardianship can seem grueling, every step is necessary to ensure that the elderly person will be in the care of the right person.
Duties of a Guardian
A legal guardian for an elderly adult must be represented by an attorney. The guardian is also required to submit reports to the Court with full details of Ward’s living arrangements and care plan, their property, or both, depending on the scope of guardianship. Guardians must be bonded in most cases. A non-professional guardian is required to take a training course within 4 months of the court appointment. Guardians are allowed to take some actions without first getting Court permission, but many actions require a court order.