Adult Guardianship Lawyer

Understanding the complexities of adult guardianship in Florida can be overwhelming. And actually navigating them is way harder.


Adult guardianship comes into play when an individual, due to mental or physical impairments, cannot make informed decisions about their personal affairs. In these sensitive situations, seeking the guidance of an attorney can provide clarity and peace of mind.


If you’re facing the challenges of establishing or overseeing a guardianship, you’re not alone. Far from it. And help is available.


Contact attorney William C. Roof for guidance and continue reading to dive deeper into Florida’s guardianship process.


What Is an Adult Guardianship in Florida?

In Florida, an adult guardianship is a legal framework established when an individual, due to mental or physical impairments, is deemed incapable of making informed decisions concerning their personal or financial affairs. Under this arrangement, the court appoints a guardian to act on behalf of the incapacitated person. This person is often referred to as the “ward.”


The primary purpose of such a guardianship is to ensure the ward’s well-being, safety, and financial security. The court order aims to protect the rights and dignity of the ward, ensuring decisions made are in their best interest.


This is important: Guardianship is often considered a last resort.


Before a guardian is appointed, the court must be convinced that there are no less restrictive alternatives, such as a durable power of attorney or a trust, that can serve the ward’s needs. The process is intricate, safeguarded with checks and balances, to prevent any potential misuse or abuse of the guardian’s powers.


Guardianship is far from a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the ward’s specific circumstances and needs, the guardianship can be plenary, where the guardian makes all decisions, or limited, where the guardian’s authority is restricted to specific areas of the ward’s life.


The overarching goal is always to preserve as much of the ward’s autonomy and rights as possible. Meaning you only intervene where absolutely necessary.

Who Can Be an Adult Guardian in Florida?

In Florida, becoming an adult guardian comes with great responsibility. It involves overseeing and making critically important decisions for an individual who cannot do so for themselves.


But who qualifies to make such important decisions?


Here’s the deal: Any adult resident of Florida deemed “fit” and “qualified to act” by the court can potentially serve as a guardian.


The assessment of “fitness” involves evaluating the individual’s character, history, and ability to responsibly manage the ward’s personal and/or financial affairs.


While the courts often prioritize family members for this role due to familiarity and inherent vested interest in the ward’s well-being, there are situations when non-family members or even professional guardians are appointed.


Professional guardians undergo specialized training and are often chosen when a suitable family member is unavailable or when the ward’s needs call for a level of expertise that a family member might not possess.


Also, certain family members can be appointed as guardians even if they don’t reside in Florida. That way, the most suitable individual can take on the guardianship role, even if they’re not local.


However, there are some restrictions. If you have felony convictions, for example, you may be disqualified from serving as a guardian.


Also, due to the weight of responsibility the role carries, non-professional guardians have to undergo background and credit checks. You may also be required to provide fingerprints, typically obtained through the county sheriff’s department.


And because the guardianship process can be legally complex, it’s a great idea to speak with an attorney if you’re thinking about seeking an adult guardianship.

Guardianship Process: How an Adult Guardianship Is Obtained in Florida

In Florida, obtaining an adult guardianship involves a structured legal process, ensuring the protection of the ward’s rights while providing them the support they need. Here are the basic steps:

Initiating the Process

The journey begins with filing two critical petitions in the county court: the Petition to Determine Incapacity and the Petition to Appoint Guardian. These documents initiate a court-supervised evaluation to ascertain the individual’s capacity to make decisions.

Capacity Evaluation

Post-filing, the court appoints a three-person committee of mental and physical health experts. This committee assesses the individual’s decision-making abilities, submitting their findings within 15 days.

Guardianship Hearing

After the court determines the level of the individual’s incapacity, there’s a hearing. Depending on the outcome, a guardian is then appointed with responsibilities clearly defined by the court.

Types of Adult Guardianship

Florida law recognizes two primary forms of adult guardianship — plenary and limited — as well as temporary emergency guardianships. Let’s look at all three types.

Plenary Guardianship

Here, the guardian is trusted with comprehensive authority, encompassing all personal and fiduciary decisions for the ward.

Limited Guardianship

As the name suggests, the guardian’s authority is restricted in a limited guardianship. In other words, the ward retains certain rights.

This guardianship type can further be categorized into guardianship of the person (focusing on personal care decisions) and guardianship of the property (concerning asset and property management).

Temporary Emergency Guardianship

In certain circumstances, the need for a guardian becomes immediately apparent due to sudden events or unforeseen situations involving an incapacitated adult. That’s when Florida law provides for a provision known as temporary emergency guardianship.

Temporary emergency guardianship is common when there is an imminent danger to the physical or mental health, safety of a person, or a threat to the person’s property being wasted, misappropriated, or lost without immediate intervention.

Given the urgent nature of these situations, the standard guardianship process might not be fast enough to offer the necessary protection.

Duties of the Guardian

In Florida, adult guardians have specific sets of duties. Here are the basics to know:

Managing Property and Health Care

Guardians are responsible for the ward’s property management and ensuring appropriate health care provisions.

Regular Reporting

Guardians have to draft and file periodic reports detailing the ward’s property, medical care, and overall social condition.

Upholding the Ward’s Rights

Certain “non-delegable” rights of the ward, such as voting and marriage, must be respected and upheld.

Adult Guardianship FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions that might help you get a clearer understanding of adult guardianship in Florida.

Who Can Serve as a Guardian?

In Florida, any “fit” and “qualified to act” adult resident can be a guardian. Family members, even those outside Florida, are often preferred. However, certain felony convictions and other factors can disqualify you.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Guardian?

The duration of the guardianship process varies in Florida, depending on your case’s complexities. But the court usually acts quickly because of the ward’s potentially vulnerable position.

When Should I Begin the Guardianship Application Process?

It’s usually a good idea to start the process as soon as you recognize a loved one’s inability to make informed decisions. It’s all about ensuring their well-being and protection as quickly as possible.

How Long Does an Adult Guardianship Last in Florida?

The guardianship’s duration depends on the ward’s condition. It can be temporary or long-term, depending on the ward’s recovery or improvement. Your attorney can give you a better idea of the timeline to expect.

What Is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and Guardianship?

While both grant decision-making authority, a power of attorney is a voluntary agreement, while guardianship is court-appointed (often when no other less restrictive methods are available).

Reach Out to Adult Guardianship Lawyer William C. Roof

Understanding adult guardianship in Florida is crucial for ensuring the well-being of your loved one. With the potential legal complications involved, it’s unbelievably useful to have a knowledgeable law firm by your side.


Florida adult guardianship attorney William C. Roof is here to guide you through every step, ensuring your loved one’s best interests are upheld. Don’t navigate this journey alone; reach out today for the legal help you need.


The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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