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Guardianship Lawyer in Daytona Beach

Guardianship provides a way for adult caretakers to acquire legal rights to take care of children who are not their own. It is also a means by which guardians appointed by the court can make personal and financial decisions for adults with mental or physical disabilities. A person granted this legal authority to make decisions on behalf of another person is called a guardian. A child or adult for whom a guardian is appointed is known as a ward. State law on guardianships can be found in the Florida Statutes, Chapter 744.

When Is Child Guardianship Needed?

The guardianship process is designed to protect and exercise the legal rights of individuals who are not able to make their own decisions, including minor children. Under Florida law, a guardian must be appointed for a minor in the following circumstances:

  • The child’s parents die or become incapacitated.
  • The child receives insurance policy proceeds, lawsuit proceeds, or an inheritance exceeding the amount allowed under the law ($15,000). With any lesser amount, the child’s parents can receive the money or assets for the child. When the child is to receive $15,000 or more, a guardianship of the property must be established for the minor.

When Is Guardianship Established for Adults?

Adult guardianship is established when the court finds an adult individual’s decision-making abilities to be impaired. The court grants the right to make decisions for that individual to another person. The courts will only grant guardianship when no less restrictive alternatives are found to be available and appropriate. Alternative measures may include:

  • Durable power of attorney
  • Trust
  • Pre-need directive
  • Health care proxy

What Are the Different Types of Guardianship?

The two main forms of guardianship in Florida are guardianship of property and guardianship of a person.

  • Guardianship of property: A guardian of property has a duty to inventory and control the assets of the ward. Assets are placed in the name of the guardianship, and the guardian is responsible for safeguarding those assets for the benefit of the ward. Guardians of property are required to file annual accountings with the court, which are subject to the court’s approval. They have a legal right to prosecute or defend causes of action against the ward. Guardianship of property can be granted without guardianship of a person.
  • Guardianship of a person: This is far more intrusive and complicated than guardianship of property. When an adult has been legally deemed incompetent, the court will appoint a guardian and the incompetent adult becomes the guardian’s ward. The guardian is charged with making decisions that impact the ward’s life, concerning residence, medical care, visitation, travel, and socialization. A guardian of a person is also required to file annual reports with the court to advise the court of the health and status of the ward.

What Is the Difference Between Limited and Plenary Guardianship?

Legislative intent in Florida makes the least restrictive form of guardianship desirable. The law provides for either limited or plenary guardianship. Limited guardianship may be established when the court finds that the ward lacks capacity to perform some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for his or her own person or property. Plenary guardianship is established in cases involving an adult ward who is unable to care for himself or herself. A plenary guardian is appointed to exercise all legal rights and powers of the adult ward after incapacity has been determined.

If you need to obtain guardianship of a child or an incapacitated adult, contact Politis & Matovina at (386) 333-6613. Our experienced Daytona Beach family law attorneys can guide you skillfully through the process.

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