Families in Florida may face difficult circumstances when a beloved parent or other close elderly loved one begins to show signs of dementia or other forms of cognitive decline. Especially if this person is single or lives alone, they may face increasing medical and financial difficulties, fall behind on bills, become targeted by scammers or face a serious decline in their personal health and well-being. Guardianship is one option that people may pursue in order to address problems stemming from incapacity.
Pursuing guardianship in court
In order to establish a guardianship, the petitioner must file a petition with the court with detailed information about the affected party, including their medical circumstances and their assets and liabilities. A temporary emergency guardianship may be established on a limited basis in severe cases, because the process of receiving guardianship can take a significant amount of time and includes multiple safeguards.
Advance planning can prevent need for court process
Courts prefer solutions where the person has expressed their own will in advance, by naming a preneed guardian, requesting a voluntary guardianship while having the capacity to do so, or creating documents with the help of an elder law professional, such as a health care power of attorney or a financial power of attorney. These advance planning tools can help people to protect themselves and their loved ones in the years to come.
After an investigation performed by a medical examining committee and a hearing, the court may determine that a guardianship is necessary. In some cases, this guardianship may be limited, meaning that the ward has some capacity to make decisions but cannot do so in other areas. In other cases, it may be plenary, which grants the guardian the right to make all decisions on behalf of the ward. In all cases, the process is overseen by the court and guardians must report the ward’s financial and medical health status on an ongoing basis.