Articles Posted in Guardianship

Florida Law provides that any person who is 18 years or older, except a person excluded by certain crimes can become a guardian of a child. The statute provides for other exceptions to becoming a guardian of a minor such as incapacity, illness, or if the court finds one to be otherwise “unsuitable” to become a guardian of a child.

An Atlantic Beach Guardianship Lawyer will meet with you at the beach, provide you with a questionnaire, and make a determination as to your suitability to become a guardian. A petition for appointment as guardian is filed with the Duval County Probate Clerk, and the case is opened. The natural parents must either give their consent to the guardianship or be found to have neglected or abandoned their child.

There are several documents that must be filed with the court before a hearing will be set in front of the probate judge. The person seeking to be appointed for the court must appear at the hearing. The minor does not have to attend the hearing, however, the unique circumstances of each case will dictate.

Elderly couple - sad.jpgWho is qualified to be a guardian over a Florida resident?

Any interested person who is a resident of Florida may be considered to act as a guardian for another person who lives in Florida, if they meet certain criteria. A guardian must be over the age of 18 and have no legal disability.

A nonresident may serve as guardian of a resident ward if he or she is: a descendant (child, grandchild, great granchild) of the ward; an adopted child or adoptive parent of the ward, or a spouse, sibling, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew of the ward, or a spouse of a person qualified under this section.

Jacksonville Guardianship Lawyer.jpgAt times in life, people experience highs and people experience lows. Bouts of depression can bring on drinking or drug use, or a sudden illness or accident can occur. When this happens there is the potential that someone will become incapacitated and hospitalized without the ability to make important life decisions.

A Florida Durable Power of Attorney gives the family a way to help a potentially disabled person in handling his or her legal, business and property affairs. The durable power of attorney might effectively sidestep the time and expense it could cost to establish a guardianship. One should also consider designating a Florida Health Care Surrogate so that he or she can make medical decisions in the event of incapacitation. Consulting with a Jacksonville Guardianship Lawyer with an office in Atlantic Beach, will give you the advice you need about the legal documents available to one who currently has the legal capacity to sign a legal document giving future authority to another.

A situation I recently heard of was of a young man whose older brother had just been divorced. The older brother fell into such a depression that his drug use increased two-fold, and he even told his family that it would kill him. Being a savvy younger brother and knowing his older brother was in the middle of a divorce, the younger brother started talking to the older brother about a durable power of attorney in case he ended up in the hospital and unable to handle his financial affairs in the divorce. Sure enough, the older brother ended up in the hospital, unable to express his desires without the help of his younger brother as his agent.

As an attorney in an Orange Park Guardianship Law Firm, I often receive calls from parents of minor children who have received an inheritance, proceeds of a lawsuit, or insurance policy. Florida Guardianship law provides that a guardianship is required if the monetary amount in question exceeds $15,000 dollars.

Parents in Orange Park or around often question why a court proceeding is necessary for them to get access to their children’s money. In most instances, a bank, insurance company or other financial institution will not release funds to you until you have the necessary court order demonstrating your legal authority to take control of the money.

To become the guardian of a minor, (even natural parents) you need to consult with a Jacksonville Guardianship Lawyer mandated by Florida law to protect and serve the best interest of the minor. Any money exceeding $15,000 is considered significant, and the court requires that the money be placed in a restricted financial account.

autism.jpgAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in every six American children now has a developmental disability, which is a 15% increase since 1997.

The Los Angeles Times further reports that the increase is due to the rise in the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and is based on reports by parents during a phone survey. But because ADHD has become a catchall phrase for a variety of behavioral problems in schools and elsewhere, it is not clear whether the increase represents a real upsurge in such developmental delays or simply parental and physician attribution of old behaviors to a disorder that might be treated with drugs.

Developmentally disabled Floridians living in Jacksonville and the surrounding area, suffer from retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida and Prader-Willi Syndrome. To qualify under the Florida Statutes as an individual with a developmental disorder, the syndrome or disorder must manifest before the age of 18. The disability must further constitute a substantial handicap that can reasonable be expected to continue indefinitely.

guardian of elder.jpgSay it isn’t so. A recent story in the American Bar Association Journal reports that an attorney in practice for over 30 years has been disbarred for helping a Ward “Will” 5 million to the attorney’s wife.

A Florida Guardian is appointed by the court to make personal and financial decisions for a minor child or an adult who is either physically or mentally incapacitated. The subject of the guardianship is called a “ward”.

In many instances a family member, or close personal friend petitions the court for a guardian to be appointed. However, there are times when an incapacitated person has no family or friend willing or able to act as guardian. In this case, either an attorney or a professional guardian will be chosen. In either instance, a Ward by virtue of being either incapacitated or a minor, is often easy prey for an unsavory guardian.

guardian mom for kid.jpgFlorida law allows for a non-legal parent to become the legal Guardian of a Florida Minor should the natural or adoptive parent become incapacitated or die. One way for parents to designate who they want as guardian is name a guardian in their Florida Will. The court shall consider any person designated as guardian in any will in which the ward is designated as a beneficiary. Florida Statute 744.312(3)(c)

It is however, better practice to follow Florida Guardianship Law in having a Preneed Guardian Designation prepared. Both parents, if living, or the surviving parent, may nominate a preneed guardian of the minor by making a written declaration. In that way, when the surviving parent becomes incapacitated or dies his or her wishes as to who should be the guardian of their child has been memorialized in writing. It is important to consult with an Orange Park Guardian Lawyer to make sure that the preneed guardian designation has been executed pursuant to Florida Law and is therefore, valid. The Designation must also be filed with the proper clerk of the court.

Upon a proceeding to determine the last surviving parent incapacitated, or upon the death of the last surviving parent, the production of a preneed declaration constitutes a rebuttable presumption that the designated preneed guardian is entitled to become the guardian. However, the court is not bound by the preneed guardian designation if the guardian is found to be “unqualified” to serve or if the court believes that such appointment of the preneed guardian would be contrary to the minor’s best interest.

080306-Hoarding-1-vmed-5p.grid-4x2.jpgFlorida is home to a vast majority of senior citizens. As with any elderly population, Jacksonville elders suffers from an array of physical, degenerative and mental health illnesses and disease. Among a newly recognized and growing condition in the elderly, is Hoarding. The International Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation estimates that 1 in 20 people hoard. As with any disease, hoarding has many serious implications regarding the health, safety, and even mortality of an afflicted individual.

As a Jacksonville Elder Law Attorney, I have heard many stories about the negative implications associated with this growing phenomenon. Experts say that seniors are prone to cluttering for a variety of reasons, including fear of loss, anxiety, depression, not knowing how to get rid of possessions, or even memories associated with specific items that hold no intrinsic value.

The risks of living in clutter are many, and can lead to more serious physical health problems, including slip and falls from papers and debris on the floor, threat of fire, health effects of mold and mildew, exposure to vermin from rotting food and trash, complications from eating outdated food and much worse. Clutter can also interfere with family relationships, and creates conflict.

elderly looking out window.jpgA Guardian is someone who is able to step into a persons “shoes” and make decisions for that person should he or she become incapacitated. A Guardian is able to make personal and financial decisions for the person who needs protection, called the Ward. A Florida Guardianship can be either limited or plenary. A limited guardianship gives limited power to the guardian over a person’s affairs. On the other hand, a plenary guardianship is when the guardian has authority over all of an individual’s delegable legal rights and powers.

What happens if one does not write out a plan for who should take care of what tasks upon a person’s incapacitation? It is often left up to the courts to decide what the now incapacitated individual needs and who is best to provide that type of care. Although courts will try to be limited when bestowing guardianship rights, the best practice is to formalize in writing who and what rights are to be given before incapacitation. This is called a Preneed Guardianship .

Pre-empting the need for guardianship is easier to do in some cases, of course. It may be simple to anticipate if someone is developing Alzheimer’s’, in which case during a lucid time period that person would just create a Preneed Guardianship . But life is full of unusual twists, and accidents happen. It is for those unforeseen circumstances that Preneed Guardianships are most effective.

elder with young girlfriend.jpgNo matter how good and attentive a child you may be, your Florida elderly single parent may fall prey to a companion, “girl-friend” or “boyfriend”, who may have an ulterior and nefarious (not so nice) motive. If you are a concerned child of an elder who may be involved with someone you are suspicious of, it would be wise to contact an Orange Park Guardianship Attorney to discuss the situation you find your parent.

An Orange Park Guardianship takes several forms. A Voluntary Guardianship is when an elder person, although, not incompetent, is incapable of the “care, custody and management or his or her estate by reason of age or physical infirmity and who has voluntarily petitioned for the appointment”. A voluntary guardianship does not require a determination of incapacity.

A Plenary Guardianship requires that the elder you are seeking guardianship over, be determined incapacitated. This incapacity may be deemed total or limited, and the guardian is given authority over the elder accordingly.

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