Guardianship Attorney Florida

Guardianship is a crucial aspect of the legal system that ensures the well-being and protection of vulnerable individuals. But how can you navigate the complex world of guardianship in Florida? We will guide you through the various types of guardianships, the appointment process, the qualifications needed to serve as a guardian, and how a guardianship attorney can assist you. By understanding the intricacies of Florida guardianship law, you will be better prepared to make informed decisions for yourself or your loved ones.

5 Crucial Reasons to Engage a Guardianship Attorney

  1. Complex Legal Procedures: Establishing guardianship requires navigating intricate legal processes, including filing petitions, attending hearings, and presenting evidence to demonstrate the necessity of guardianship. An experienced guardianship attorney can guide clients through this procedure, ensuring all steps are correctly followed.
  2. Protecting the Best Interests of the Ward: Whether the individual in question is a minor or an incapacitated adult, a guardianship attorney can advocate for the best interests of the ward, ensuring that the guardianship is established in situations that genuinely require it and with the most suitable guardian.
  3. Resolving Disputes: In cases where multiple parties might be vying for guardianship or disputing the necessity of a guardianship, an attorney can provide representation in court, presenting arguments and evidence to resolve disputes in favor of their client’s interests and the ward’s well-being.
  4. Guardianship Duties and Responsibilities: Once guardianship is established, the guardian has specific duties and responsibilities under the law, which can vary depending on jurisdiction. A guardianship attorney can educate and advise the guardian on these duties, ensuring that the guardian fully understands and abides by them.
  5. Modifications and Terminations: Circumstances may change, and there might be a need to modify or terminate a guardianship. Whether it’s due to improvements in the ward’s condition or other evolving situations, a guardianship attorney can assist in the legal processes required for such changes.

Understanding Guardianship in Florida

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Guardianship in Florida is a legal process to protect the best interests of adults with mental or physical impairments and minors in certain situations. The method includes the following steps:

  1. Filing a petition to the court
  2. The court appoints a committee of independent medical and mental health professionals
  3. The committee assesses the alleged incapacitated person (AIP)

The court will analyze the AIP’s incapacity level and decide whether a guardian needs to be appointed. Depending on the degree of incapacity, the respective guardian will be chosen. Navigating the often delicate guardianship matters in Florida requires the expertise of experienced guardianship attorneys.

Adult Guardianship

Adult guardianship supports individuals with mental or physical impairments who cannot make decisions independently. Appointed by circuit courts, the guardian ensures the personal and financial well-being of the incapacitated person is effectively managed.

The court will only appoint a guardian for an incapacitated adult if no less restrictive alternatives are available, such as a trust, power of attorney, or health care surrogate. The person’s guardian collaborates with the trustee to ensure that the ward is adequately cared for, including making medical decisions on their behalf.

Minor Guardianship

Minor guardianship arises when a parent is deceased or incapacitated, and a legal guardian manages the child’s assets, income, and overall well-being. The child guardian possesses the same legal relationship to the minor as biological or adoptive parents and must make decisions concerning the child’s well-being.

In minor guardianship cases in Florida, the guardian is required to:

  • Be represented by an attorney
  • Obtain court approval for certain actions
  • Oversee the child’s assets, income, and overall well-being
  • Handle various guardianship matters in Florida.

Types of Guardianships in Florida

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Florida law recognizes different types of guardianships based on the decision-making authority granted to the guardian. The most common types of guardianships are limited guardianships and plenary guardianships.

Limited guardianships are used when the ward can make certain decisions but requires assistance with others, granting the guardian limited decision-making authority. In contrast, plenary guardianships grant full decision-making authority to the guardian, typically employed when the ward is unable to make any decisions independently.

Family members, close acquaintances, or even professional guardians can be appointed in West Palm Beach guardianship cases.

Plenary Guardianship

Plenary guardianship is when the court appoints a person to exercise all legal rights and powers on behalf of the ward. The plenary guardian possesses wide-ranging authority to make personal and fiduciary decisions for the ward, such as financial, medical, and personal matters. They may require the assistance of a guardianship litigation attorney in case of disputes.

To serve as a plenary guardian, the individual must meet specific requirements, such as being mentally capable and having no criminal background. Law offices specializing in guardianship can provide more information on these requirements.

The procedure for appointing a plenary guardian involves submitting a petition to the court, notifying the ward and relevant parties, and appearing at a hearing to obtain court approval.

Limited Guardianship

Limited guardianship in Florida delegates certain rights to the guardian while the ward retains other rights, allowing for a more tailored approach to the ward’s needs. The guardian possesses the right to make decisions on behalf of the ward in areas such as medical care, education, and finances. Meanwhile, the ward retains autonomy in personal care, living arrangements, and religious practices.

Limited guardianship offers a more personalized approach to the ward’s requirements, ensuring their rights are respected and their autonomy is safeguarded. The procedure for appointing a limited guardian is similar to appointing a plenary guardian, with the court required to authorize the appointment and the guardian needing to possess the necessary qualifications.

The Process of Appointing a Guardian

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The process of appointing a guardian begins with filing a petition to the court. The court will then serve the notice of the hearing on the petition to the AIP and any other interested persons outlined in the petition.

If the court finds that the AIP is incapable, a guardian may be appointed. Understandably, appointing a guardian is a serious matter, given it can potentially strip the individual of their rights to make decisions for themselves. Therefore, courts take all necessary precautions and evaluations before making a decision.

Qualifications for Serving as a Guardian

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Serving as a guardian in Florida requires meeting specific qualifications under Florida guardianship law. Regardless of their relationship to the ward, a competent and qualified individual may be appointed as a guardian, with preference given to family members.

To serve as a guardian, one must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of the state or a nonresident directly related to the ward
  • Be a competent adult of 18 years or more
  • Complete a state-approved 40-hour instruction and training course
  • Pass the in-course exam
  • Submit an application highlighting their qualifications to serve as a guardian.

Providing the best possible care and protection for the ward necessitates a guardian who meets these qualifications.

How a Guardianship Attorney Can Assist You

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A guardianship attorney can provide invaluable legal counsel, advocacy, and assistance throughout the guardianship process, ensuring the ward’s best interests are safeguarded. They offer a range of services, including:

  • Legal advice
  • Representation in court
  • Assistance with estate planning
  • Preparing initial and annual guardianship reports

The Astor Simovitch Law Firm Difference

Navigating through crises that involve mental health and substance abuse demands a stalwart ally who comprehends the intricacies of the challenge. Our Marchman & Guardianship Attorneys are that ally for you in Florida. Rooted deeply within our specialized boutique practice is a dedication forged from over three decades of distinguished experience in legal representation, specifically tailored to assist those grappling with substance use and mental health disorders.

Navigating the complexities and sensitivities of guardianship cases requires more than legal expertise; it demands an emotional quotient and a humane approach deeply embedded in our Marchman & Guardianship Attorneys practice. We do more than represent you; we become an intrinsic part of your journey, extending an unyielding support system that stands resiliently beside you, day or night, to safeguard against unlawful detainments and to assure the rightful establishment and protection of guardianships. Our dedication goes beyond traditional legal counsel, evolving into a partnership that walks alongside you toward a hopeful, stable future.

Through the often turbulent paths encircling guardianship, particularly amidst mental health and substance abuse crises, we provide adept legal navigation and a repository of resources and guidance to assist you. Whether establishing a guardianship, ensuring it serves the best interests of the involved individual, or navigating through the unique challenges posed by mental health and substance abuse issues within this legal context, we commit to being more than your attorneys. We are your steadfast partners, ensuring that the guardianship journey is traversed with the utmost empathy, expertise, and a clear focus on safeguarding the well-being of your loved ones while providing you with the necessary support, guidance, and peace of mind.

Emergency Temporary Guardianship

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Emergency temporary guardianship is a procedure in which a temporary guardian may be appointed on an emergency basis if the need arises for guardianship authority to decide. An attorney must represent the guardian during this process.

Grounds for granting emergency temporary guardianship in Florida include:

  • Imminent risk of danger to the physical environment
  • A delay in decision-making that may detrimentally affect the mental health or safety of the AIP
  • The AIP’s property is in danger of being wasted or misappropriated.

The guardian’s temporary appointment lasts for 90 days. If the situation hasn’t stabilized or the adult remains incapable of executing legal documents by this point, petitioning for permanent guardianship may become necessary.

Guardian Advocate for Persons with Disabilities

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Florida’s Guardian Advocate law assists individuals with developmental disabilities in making medical, educational, and financial decisions with the help of a guardian advocate. To serve as a Guardian Advocate, one must meet specific qualifications, such as being 18 years or older, having a clean criminal record, and possessing the capacity to comprehend the requirements of the person with disabilities.

The procedure for appointing a Guardian Advocate typically involves filing a petition with the court, furnishing evidence of the individual’s disability, and having the court appoint a Guardian Advocate.

The counsel of an guardianship attorney throughout this process can safe you tremendous amounts of time, prevent complications throughout the process, and ensure you are taken seriously by the legal authorities.

Navigating Guardianship Disputes and Litigation

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Experienced guardianship attorneys can help clients navigate complicated guardianship disputes and litigation, protecting the rights of all parties involved.

In involuntary guardianship proceedings, a guardianship litigator provides robust and effective advocacy.

If a petition for review of a guardianship plan is filed alleging that the guardian is not acting in the ward’s best interest, the court must be notified. Under Florida law, be aware that the petitioner may be liable for attorney fees if the petition is without merit.

Ending a Guardianship

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Guardianship administration may terminate under certain conditions, such as the death of the ward, the ward reaching the age of majority, or if circumstances have changed that no longer necessitate guardianship. To conclude a guardianship, one must file a petition with the court, participate in a court hearing, provide evidence, and await a judge’s decision.

Notice of the hearing must also be given to all parties involved. Consulting with a guardianship attorney during this process can ensure a smooth and efficient conclusion to the guardianship.


In conclusion, guardianship in Florida protects the best interests of vulnerable individuals, minors, or adults with mental or physical impairments. Understanding the various types of guardianships, the appointment process, the qualifications for serving as a guardian, and the role of guardianship attorneys can help you make informed decisions for yourself or your loved ones. By working with an experienced guardianship attorney, you can navigate the complex world of guardianship and ensure the well-being and protection of those who most need it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need an attorney to file for guardianship in Florida?

Yes, an attorney is needed to file for guardianship in Florida. Guardians must be represented by an attorney who will serve as an attorney of record and may need to furnish a bond and/or complete a court-approved training program.

How does guardianship work in Florida?

In Florida, guardianship is a legal process in which a guardian is appointed by the court to make either personal and/or financial decisions for a minor or an adult with mental or physical disabilities. To establish a guardianship, someone must file a petition with the local court, and the court will appoint an attorney to represent the alleged incapacitated person.

What is the statute of guardianship in Florida?

In Florida, guardianship is a legal process governed by Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes. It is handled in the circuit courts of Florida to appoint a guardian to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person.

What is the difference between plenary and limited guardianship in Florida?

Plenary guardianship grants the guardian full decision-making authority over the ward, while limited guardianship delegates certain rights to the guardian and allows the ward to retain other rights.

How can a guardianship attorney assist me?

A guardianship attorney can provide legal counsel, representation, and assistance throughout the process to protect your ward’s best interests.

Are there professional guardians?

Yes, you can hire individuals to act as professional guardians in Guardianship matters.

Generally, this will occur in circumstances where there is no one to serve as guardian for the respondent, or the family of the respondent is unable to decide who to appoint.

Can a respondent oppose an emergency temporary guardianship (ETG) appointment?

Yes, a respondent has the legal right to a hearing with counsel present to challenge the allegations made in the petition (and to have counsel appointed for them if they cannot afford a lawyer).

If the petitioner doesn’t meet their burden of proof or doesn’t prove all the allegations that are made, a judge may deny the petition entirely or may deny part (granting only part).

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