Our Probate Attorneys Represent Families, Guardians and Wards

A guardianship is a legal relationship established by the court in which a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of a ward. The court will only appoint a guardian to care for a ward who meets the definition of “incapacitated person” under Florida Statute Chapter 744. A minor, a person with a disability or an elderly person may be considered incapacitated if he or she is not able to make decisions about property or health.

Walser Law Firm represents:

  • Family members seeking guardianship;
  • Guardians acting on behalf of their wards; and,
  • Wards requesting adjustment or termination of the guardianship.

Our team has more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of wards and helping those who are responsible for their wellbeing.

Types of Guardianships

The guardian has a duty to act in the best interests of the ward. However, the duties and duration of the relationship depend on the situation, which may include:

  • Voluntary guardianship — The ward requests the appointment of a guardian to help with the maintenance of property or assist with physical or medical needs.
  • Involuntary guardianship — Another party files a petition seeking guardianship of a person incapacitated by illness, injury, age or mental illness.
  • Temporary/emergency guardianship — In some cases, a temporary guardian is appointed upon the ward’s sudden incapacitation — due to a sudden illness or injury, for example — to act during a temporary period of incapacity or until a permanent guardianship can be established.
  • Guardian ad litem (GAL) — The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent a child’s best interests during a divorce, parental rights hearing or another domestic circumstance.

Guardianship only lasts as long as the ward remains incapacitated. The ward’s rights will be restored once a minor child reaches the age of 18 or is capable of making decisions. Also, the court may grant partial guardianship in some circumstances. For instance, the court might grant financial guardianship to a bank or a family member for a person who can take care of his or her own personal physical needs, but cannot manage complex financial affairs.

Court-Determined Incapacitation

The court will not grant guardianship for a person who simply makes poor and unhealthy choices; the person must be considered incapacitated. Before ruling a person incapacitated, the court orders an exam to assess the person’s physical, mental and functional capacity.

A presumption exists that a minor child is not capable of entering into contracts and making certain healthcare and property decisions. However, the courts have authority to rule a child is emancipated, meaning the minor is legally treated as an adult. Otherwise, the parents are typically considered a child’s guardian. If the parents can no longer care for the child — because of death, illness, neglect or abuse — the court may then appoint another guardian who assumes many of the responsibilities of a parent until the child reaches 18 years old.

Learn More About Guardianship from Our Florida Probate Attorneys

Walser Law Firm can help you establish guardianship or handle other matters related to the legal relationship. Call our Florida probate attorneys at 561.750.1040 or send us an email to schedule a consultation to strategize a solution to your specific circumstances.

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