Most people think of guardianships as the appointment of an adult acting on behalf of a minor child when that child’s parents are unable, unwilling, or incapable of handling parental responsibilities. However, Florida guardianship law is much broader than that, and also applies to the appointment of guardians for incapacitated adults. Although there are several types of guardianships, a guardianship is most often established for either a minor who requires a guardian of the minor’s property (typically either as the result of a recovery in a lawsuit or an inheritance), or for an incapacitated person who lacks the capacity to manage some or all of his or her own affairs. Although involuntary guardianships are more common, Florida law does allow voluntary guardianships when an adult, although mentally competent, cannot adequately manage his or her own affairs and petitions the court for the appointment of a guardian.
Adjudicating a person incapacitated and in need of a guardian may deprive that person of many rights they would otherwise be able to exercise. The courts and the Florida legislature are cognizant that such deprivation may be excessive or unnecessary, and consequently, strive to make the least restrictive form of guardianship available, or otherwise determine that less restrictive alternatives to a guardianship exist. A guardian may not be appointed if the court determines there is an alternative to guardianship that will sufficiently address the concerns regarding the alleged incapacitated person.
If you believe a child or an incapacitated adult is in need of a guardianship, Chepenik Trushin LLP is here to help guide you through the process.